ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Hüseyin Çelik, the deputy chairman and spokesman of the ruling party, vows no cover-up on an air raid that killed 35 villagers in a southeastern city of Turkey. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
Compensating the families of 35 villagers killed in a Dec. 28 air raid will amount to a “material apology” although a verbal admission of guilt could follow depending on probe results, a senior ruling party official said yesterday.
“The payment of compensation would in fact constitute a material apology. A verbal apology could be extended after all details of the incident have been uncovered,” Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik told reporters.
Çelik said the authorities would in no way cover up the incident if the probe establishes “any ill-intention, or any fault or negligence” was involved in the intelligence failure that prompted the strike in which the Kurdish smugglers, most of them teenagers, were mistaken for militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK) and bombed while crossing from Iraq into the southeastern province of Şırnak. The PKK
is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
“will do what is necessary” if it turns out that he has been misled by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), Çelik said, referring to media reports that MİT supplied the faulty intelligence to the military. MİT has denied the allegations and told Erdoğan it had not sent any intelligence reports on the issue ahead of the strike.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lodged a motion calling for a parliamentary inquiry to find out how the operation unfolded.
A delegation of CHP
lawmakers who returned from Şırnak after a series of meetings with relatives of the dead and local officials urged the government to promptly find out who was responsible for the intelligence blunder. The lawmakers questioned why prosecutors had not yet asked the only survivor of the raid, Servet Encü, to give his account of the bombing and quoted the Şırnak governor as saying he had no prior information of the operation.
Local villagers reportedly said they were rebuffed by authorities when they alerted them to the presence of relatives crossing the border upon seeing warplanes flying in the area.
Also yesterday, the CHP
submitted a draft law to Parliament that is aimed at increasing state compensation paid to citizens who suffer damages because of the struggle against the PKK.