Erol 'Eagle' Evcil Roosting in 'Eagle' Prison

HDN | 11/14/1999 12:00:00 AM |

The key name in state-mafia relations, Erol Evcil, is leading a luxurious life in Kartal Prison ('Eagle' Prison in Turkish) like many other Susurluk figures who have gone in and out of prison Evcil was arrested and put into Kartal Prison on the third anniversary of Susurluk. He was charged with contracting the murder of usurer Nesim Malki. Evcil, who had been a respected businessman, has seen that respect put on hold Of all the names related with Susurluk, only Evcil is in prison. Public Prosecutor

  • The key name in state-mafia relations, Erol Evcil, is leading a luxurious life in Kartal Prison ('Eagle' Prison in Turkish) like many other Susurluk figures who have gone in and out of prison
  • Evcil was arrested and put into Kartal Prison on the third anniversary of Susurluk. He was charged with contracting the murder of usurer Nesim Malki. Evcil, who had been a respected businessman, has seen that respect put on hold
  • Of all the names related with Susurluk, only Evcil is in prison. Public Prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin, who has been investigating Susurluk and many other mafia-related events, is as famous as the Susurluk suspects

    Erol Evcil has the leading role in the final curtain of one of many plays that resemble one another. The tragicomic play titled "Susurluk" has become popular again in the new season. The leading actor, Erol Evcil, is in Istanbul's Kartal Prison.

    There has been speculation that Evcil will face a similar fate as others with connections in the Susurluk accident, which took place on Nov. 3, 1996. That "similar fate" refers to his having to stay in five-star accommodations for some time, collecting his thoughts and then continuing his life from where he left off.

    The first people who came on to the agenda just following the Susurluk accident were then Interior Minister Mehmet Agar and True Path Party (DYP) Sanliurfa Deputy Sedat Bucak. There were claims that Mehmet Agar had provided gun licenses, green passports and special security IDs to many fugitives, the best known of whom, Abdullah Catli, was wanted on suspicion of having planned a massacre; he died in the Susurluk accident along with his girlfriend and a police chief. Sedat Bucak was merely injured in the accident, although seriously enough to have lost his memory of the incident. Agar was blamed for forming a state within the state and eventually resigned, thanks to pressure from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), among others who were pushing for a cleaner society. As the date for his vacating the position of interior minister drew near, unprecedented ceremonies both within the security community and outside took place. A group even shouted the slogan, "Turkey is proud of you."

    The second name after Agar was DYP Sanliurfa Deputy Sedat Bucak, who was the only one to survive the accident. Bucak, who was sitting in the front seat of the Mercedes they were travelling in when it hit a passing truck, was discharged from hospital after two days. Bucak, who has parliamentary immunity, didn't speak with public prosecutors for a long time. The reason he gave was very interesting: "I lost my memory at the time of the accident." Bucak was interviewed a week later by HBB TV's Behic Kilic. For those who watched it, the exclusive interview could not have ended soon enough because Kilic's questions avoided the main subject. After that, the hero of the Susurluk accident, Bucak, was seen on TV just one time more, resting at his farm in Siverek. As Bucak arrived in Ankara, made his way in and out of the HBB TV studios, and finally as he departed for Sanliurfa a group chanted, "Turkey is proud of you."

    Three years have passed since the Susurluk accident. Many "Susurluk" files have been opened during that time because of pressure from those who want a clean state, clean politics, clean police and a clean society; these files were collected at the Istanbul State Security Court (DGM). During this time many Susurluk case files were opened and many well-known people were arrested. But they were set free shortly after their arrest. Some of those taken into custody, such as Police Special Team Director Ibrahim Sahin and police officers Ayhan Carkin, Ayhan Akca and Ercan Ersoy, were set free after a short time relaxing. Special team police who were tried for plotting to kill casino king Omer Lutfu Topal and subsequently spent some time in Metris Prison. While they were being tried at the Istanbul DGM and as they went in and out of prison, a group of slogan shouters attracted attention with, "Turkey is proud of you."

    As the special team members who had signed off on a number of illegal acts connected with Susurluk were languishing in Metris Prison, there were news reports along the lines of, "kebab banquets for special team members in prison; special wards for special teams; special teams are like masters in their wards, which are equipped with refrigerators, televisions and luxury items." This story was not over yet. The expected decision was announced -- the special team members were to be set free. When the special team members were being taken from Metris Prison to return to their private lives, a group attracted attention by shouting, "Turkey is proud of you."

    A new act in the play

    Three years have passed since the Susurluk accident and two years have passed since the arrest and release of many of the people connected to Susurluk. Now another act of the same play is being performed at Istanbul's Kartal Prison. The new name thought to be behind many illegal activities related to Susurluk is Erol Evcil. Evcil was arrested and put into Kartal Prison on the third anniversary of Susurluk. He was charged with contracting the murder of usurer Nesim Malki. Evcil, who had been a respected businessman up until the murder of Malki, has seen that respect put on hold. Evcil now has the opportunity to rest and renew himself for a while now.

    In Kartal Prison for over 10 days, Evcil, like other Susurluk-related suspects, has begun a life of luxury. Evcil is housed in a special two-story cell, for which he has reportedly ordered a big-screen TV, fridge, satellite antenna, orthopedic bed, special carpet, furniture and special towels and a bathrobe. It is also claimed that he has a mobile phone.

    Evcil, otherwise known as the "Eagle" in the business world, is looking after his health as he waits to be set free. Evcil refuses to eat the prison food because of a stomach problem, and instead orders special kebabs from outside the prison and shops in the prison canteen. Of all the names related with Susurluk, only Evcil is in prison.

    Court cases related to Susurluk are ongoing at the Istanbul DGM. Public Prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin, who has been investigating Susurluk and many mafia-related events, has become as famous as the Susurluk suspects. Engin has become Turkey's hope against the mafia and is known among the press as "the public prosecutor who will provide the key to mafia relations." While many public prosecutors and judges are withdrawing from the Susurluk case and other cases related to it because of political pressure on the court, who is this public prosecutor who is undertaking the latest Evcil investigation?

    Aykut Cengiz Engin has worked on many cases, and is the newest Istanbul DGM public prosecutor. Engin has interrogated many people, including former National Intelligence Service (MIT) member Korkut Eken, chairman of the MIT Counter Terrorist Department Mehmet Eymur and DYP Deputy Sedat Bucak; he is also the person who first looked into the Susurluk case. He requested Parliament to have the parliamentary immunity of deputies related with the Susurluk incident lifted. As this was being considered, the role of the special teams in the murder of casino king Omer Lutfu Topal came to light. The person who scoured telephone recordings to determine to whom special team members had spoken on the night Topal was killed and then reopened the case was Aykut Cengiz Engin.

    After this, recordings of conversations of mafia boss Alaattin Cakici were discovered. Cakici's conversations with former Minister Eyup Asik, MIT member Yavuz Atac and businessmen Erol Evcil and Korkmaz Yigit were discovered by the press one right after the other. The person who investigated them was again Public Prosecutor Engin. Besides businessmen Faruk Suren, Ali Ihsan Karacan, Osman Berkmen, Ali Balkaner and Azmi Ofluoglu, who claimed they had been threatened, lawyer Aydogan Semizer, Iktisat Bank Executive Board Chairman Gurbuz Tumay and Big Club Executive Board Chairman Duran Akbulut gave testimony to him. At this time it was understood that there was a conspiracy concerning the Turkbank tender award. An investigation was opened by Public Prosecutor Engin.

    While these lawsuits were continuing at the Istanbul DGM, Public Prosecutor Engin Baltaci was dismissed according to a new law and Aykut Cengiz Engin took on this important investigation. It became clear through the statements given that trillions of lira had changed hands on the night Malki was killed and Erol Evcil had contracted the murder of Malki. Public Prosecutor Engin then separated the Erol Evcil file from the others and included it among other files requiring further investigation. While it was believed that Evcil had fled abroad for good in order to evade charges over skipping his military service, the businessman was arrested in Bursa in a nighttime operation and, after questioning, transferred to Istanbul where he was put face-to-face with a public prosecutor. The public prosecutor was Aykut Cengiz Engin.

    Evcil was questioned for eight-and-a-half hours. The Public Prosecutor's Office has ordered that the transcript of his testimony not be made public. For this reason, we cannot publish the testimony until after the investigation has been completed, even though we have a copy of it.

    Along with Erol Evcil, who represents the last link in the dark chain of Susurluk relations, eight out of about 40 people who were placed under police supervision were interrogated again by Public Prosecutor Engin. Three of these people, one of whom, Huseyin Silahci, former chairman of Bursaspor football club, were arrested and put into prison. Businessmen Yuksel Caglar, Esat Kaya, Cihat Alkanli, Omer Karatepe and Nalan Karakurt have been set free.

    The 'Eagle' has landed

    Businessman Erol Evcil, who is only 33, is known publicly to own three airplanes. He was born in 1966 in the Cepni village of Mudanya to a family of olive cultivators. Olive cultivation seems to have stayed with him as he eventually came to be know as the "olive king." During his high school and university years in Bursa, Evcil came to be regarded as ambitious and to have a "fast" private life.

    It did not take too long for him to acquire a wealth worth trillions of lira from a small insurance company. Towards the end of the 1980s, he entered into big business and founded Zeytinoglu Holding. However, it was in the 1990s that he reached his greatest success. He employed many former high-ranking police officials in his companies. He used others as intermediaries to help him meet famous people. Among these intermediaries, were members of the mafia as well. He won state tenders through the help of friends high up in the state and mafia leaders.

    He began to cultivate Eze olives in Balikesir, Havran. Evcil purchased olives from mountain villagers and exported them, earning trillions of lira. From humble beginnings in Bursa, Evcil had turned into one of the most famous people in Turkey. He soon began attracting attention with his factories, villas and three airplanes. He lunched in Paris with his girlfriend Gulben Ergen, then dined in Rome, and then returned to Turkey. The golden watches he wore and the expensive jewellery he gave to his girlfriends were all the buzz among high society figures. Evcil, who was portrayed as an unusual prototype of a businessman, wanted to be on the top. He wanted to be the most famous businessman in Turkey. Because of his ambitious nature, he did not see any danger in becoming close with the mafia.

    However, the way Evcil and others like him conducted their business did not continue smoothly for very long. First, his name was mentioned on the Cakici tapes. Then, with the Malki murder, both his business life and private life hit rock bottom. First he sold his factories, then his famous girlfriends began leaving him one by one. Now he is in Kartal Prison, probably looking back at his past. Evcil is only 33 years old. It might be considered that Evcil's present situation is an interval in his life, and like many others he will be out of prison quite soon.

    Similar fate as Silahci

    The most intriguing name among those who were detained following Erol Evcil's capture is Huseyin Silahci, who once served as the head of Bursaspor. It was claimed that Silahci helped hide Evcil, and played an important role in Evcil's connections regarding Susurluk. Silahci was interrogated by DGM Prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin and sent to prison to await trial.

    As with Evcil, Silahci is also a young businessman from Bursa. The son of a famous family in the textile business, Huseyin Silahci is also among the more unusual businessmen. Known for his penchant for a luxurious life, Silahci also had a famous girlfriend like Evcil. He was always highly visible in night life, with his model, TV-presenter girlfriend Yasemin Kosal.

    Silahci had a special interest in expensive cars, which he drove along the muddy streets of Bursa. He went along with the trends of high society, lending his private airplane to his girlfriend Yasemin Kosal and dining in foreign cities. Now he is in a different prison from his friend but has a similar fate. Silahci was sent to Bayrampasa Prison by Prosecutor Engin. However, unlike Evcil, Silahci is not staying in a private room but with drug smugglers. It is claimed that Silahci, who is in a room holding 15 people, has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to receive protection in prison. At least until he is released.



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