Verdicts ratified in Bilge massacre case
ÇORUM - Anatolia News Agency
Assailants raided the former village head’s home in Bilge village in 2009 and killed 44 people, including seven children. AA photoThe Supreme Court of Appeals yesterday ratified most of the sentences handed out by a local court in the case of the Bilge village massacre that took place in the southeastern province of Mardin in 2009.
The appeals court approved the decision to sentence Mehmet Çelebi, the principal case suspect, to aggravated life imprisonment in connection with the murders of 43 people but overturned the ruling in the case of one victim.
The court decided to defer the ruling against Mehmet Çelebi in the case of his victim Fesih Çelebi and wait for the forensics report, as the suspect claimed there was an affair between his wife and the victim. Mehmet Çelebi also alleged their children were born of that affair and requested a DNA test, according to reports.
The court approved the ruling to sentence four other suspects to aggravated life imprisonment 44 times, as well as the decision to acquit four other suspects, according to reports.
A criminal court in the central province of Çorum had ruled to sentence Mehmet Çelebi to aggravated life imprisonment 44 times along with four other suspects. The court had also sentenced 14-year-old suspect M.Ş.Ç. to 15 years of imprisonment 44 times, suspect A.Ç. to 15 years, and suspect M.Ç., who was tried without arrest on claims of shooting in the air, to six months in prison.
The hearing of the appeals court was also held in Çorum due to security reasons, according to reports.
Bilge village made the headlines in Turkey after assailants raided the former village head’s home during his daughter’s engagement ceremony in the southeastern province of Mardin on May 4, 2009, killing 44 people, including seven children and a pregnant woman. The assailants were from the same village and included relatives of the people at the celebration.
Mehmet Çelebi’s brother Süleyman Çelebi, another suspect in the case, had apparently committed suicide by hanging himself in prison on April 27, 2011, leading to speculations the murder was meant to silence him. Following Süleyman Çelebi’s conviction, suspicions focused on his brother Mehmet Çelebi as the mastermind of the massacre.