AKP on target as Sivas trial is at critical point
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Relatives of more than 30 people killed in Sivas in 1993 carry the victims’ photos.The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came under fire yesterday for having blocked numerous attempts to investigate unresolved murders as the last trial in a legal saga over the 1993 Sivas massacre faced the risk of being closed today without any penalties.
With the heated debate over the 1938 Dersim massacres still fresh, the death of 35 intellectuals in Sivas, who perished in a fire set by an Islamist mob during an Alevi culture festival, is often cited as a test for the government’s sincerity.
A court in Ankara was to decide today whether to grant a prosecutor’s demand to end the trial of six remaining suspects charged with involvement in the torching of the Madımak Hotel on grounds that their offenses now fall beyond the 15 year statute of limitations. Members of Toplumsal Bellek (Collective Memory), a group for relatives of victims of unresolved political killings, visited Parliament yesterday to urge action to save the trial from closure but could not obtain an appointment from the AKP before Hürriyet Daily News went to print late yesterday.
“We are not after exerting pressure on the courts, but the Sivas massacre, which was a crime against humanity, must be saved from the shield of the statute of limitations,” group spokesman Abit Dursun said.
Veli Ağbaba from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who met with the group, called for legal amendments to ensure the Sivas killings would be considered as crimes against humanity, a category beyond the statute of limitations.
“If we face the truth of this and other cases, many senior AKP members, ministers and deputies, will land in the suspect’s seat. That’s why the AKP is scared,” Sırrı Süreyya Önder of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) said after meeting with the victims’ relatives.