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ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

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Arrested senior PKK member wants to reveal his identity in coup case.

Arrested senior PKK member wants to reveal his identity in coup case.

The identity of a secret witness in the ongoing Ergenekon coup trial was revealed yesterday as Şemdin Sakık, a former top militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and a close aide of its convicted leader, Abdullah Öcalan.

The secret witness, referred to only as “Deniz,” was to testify in the 255th hearing of the high-profile trial, whose suspects include main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies Mustafa Balbay and Mehmet Haberal, as well as former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ and other top soldiers.

However, the witness demanded to reveal himself and following the court’s approval, Sakık’s true identity was made public.

Sakık was captured in a special operation by the Turkish army in 1998 after he fled the PKK and took shelter in northern Iraq.

In 1999, he was given the death penalty for his role in the murder of 253 people, including the killing of 33 unarmed soldiers in Bingöl in 1993, but the sentence was commuted to
life in prison after capital punishment was abolished in Turkey. Başbuğ was furious at Sakık being used as a prosecution witness.

“Today, the Turkish military’s fight against the PKK was put on trial in Silivri,” the former top general said in a written statement released by his lawyer.

“On the one side are the commanders of the Turkish army who have fought against the PKK of all their lives sitting in the suspects’ benches facing unjust and unfounded accusations; on the other side on the witness stand is the former number two of the terror organization PKK that ordered the killing of 33 privates in Bingöl in 1993,” Başbuğ said in the statement. “A former Turkish chief of General Staff is accused of ‘founding and leading a terror organization,’ while a bloody-handed terrorist, the enemy of the accused, is heard as a witness. The decision belongs to the noble Turkish nation.”

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Yalova deputy Muharrem İnce also said the situation was unacceptable. “They are judging the patriots, intellectuals, journalists and deputies of this country based on the testimonies of PKK members, who testified as anonymous witnesses,” İnce said in a written statement.

Killing of soldiers

Sakık said in his testimony yesterday that the he was not responsible for the 1993 killings of the 33 unarmed Turkish soldiers, which destroyed hopes of a solution at the time, although it was one of the crimes Sakık was convicted of. Instead, he put the blame on identified “planners.”

“These soldiers were sent without any precautions. Why did the security forces, knowing where we are and how many we are, ignore security?” Sakık told the court.

Sakık has been at the center of controversy before; in 1999, after he was captured, he reportedly testified that a number of journalists and nongovernmental organizations had provided the PKK with support in exchange for money, explicitly revealing these journalists’ names. Later, it was discovered that the list was based on an article under the title “Andıç,” prepared by then-Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Çevik Bir and

General Secretary Maj. Gen. Erol Özkasnak, and that Sakık was forced to give such testimony.

November/07/2012

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