17 PKK member fugitives captured, jail principals discharged after Bingöl prison break
AA PhotoThe top managers of the prison from which 18 alleged PKK members fled were removed from their positions, hours after seventeen of the 18 inmates who tunneled out of a prison in the southeastern province of Bingöl were captured.
The principal of the penitentiary, three deputy principals and five officers, including the chief guardian have been removed, the Justice Ministry stated.
While the search operation is continuing for the remaining fugitive, the authorities are also investigating whether there was any measure neglect on the part of prison management.
The runaways, who were imprisoned over alleged links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), had escaped from the jail in Bingöl early on the morning of Sept. 25, through an 80-meter tunnel that had been dug from two wards.
Interior Minister Muammer Güler told daily Hürriyet that 17 of the prisoners had been caught as of 12 p.m., but one of the escapees, identified as Ekrem Taş, is still on the run.
A few hours after announcement of 17 fugitives’ capture, some reports claimed that Taş had also been caught, as a man seized in the morning was thought to be him, but identity checks revealed that this was mistaken.
The 17 captured individuals were found by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in a rural area near the Ortacanak village of Bingöl. The Gendarmerie’s Special Operations Team landed on the area detected by the UAVs and tracked the jail breakers for hours, before capturing them in the Karacehennem (Dark Hell) Forest, 20 kilometers outside the city center.
Helicopters reportedly bombed the area around which the convicts had fled to, in order to limit their movement range, but Interior Ministry officials rejected claims that the fugitives had been shot.
“The location of the fugitives was detected and they were seized. I was informed that they had been close since midnight. They were seized unarmed, there were no guns on them. It was a good operation, and I attribute their successful capture to the gendarmerie,” Güler said, vowing to continue investigating the details of the escape.
The prisoners built the 80-meter-long and 3-meter-deep tunnel out of the penitentiary over the course of around one year, but the specialists consider the construction may have begun even earlier. It is still unknown whether prisoners received help from outside or inside.
The 18 alleged PKK members, who were staying at two different wards connected with a hole dug by them, set up an illumination system in the tunnel and got rid of the soil by melting it in water and throwing it into the prison toilets. Possibly related to this method, Bingöl municipality had to unclog sewage at the prison twice over the past year, it has been reported.
Killer of AKP deputy's son among captured fugitives
One of the captured PKK-member fugitives, O.A., was convicted over a bomb attack in 2008 that killed seven, including the 17-year-old son of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Oya Eronat.
The bomb, which was placed in a military service vehicle, exploded in front of a private teaching institution in southeastern province of Diyarbakır, killing seven, six of whom were students.
In 2011, three years after her son’s loss, Eronat entered Parliament, replacing independent deputy Hatip Dicle.