Court orders Gen Tolon’s arrest in Zirve massacre case

Court orders Gen Tolon’s arrest in Zirve massacre case

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Court orders Gen Tolon’s arrest in Zirve massacre case

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A court in Malatya issued an arrest warrant Jan. 18 for retired Gen. Hurşit Tolon – who is already under arrest as part of the Ergenekon case – over the torture and murder of three Christian in the eastern province’s Zirve Publishing House in 2007.

Erdal Doğan, a lawyer for the victims, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday that the court’s decision was good news.

“If there are no [new] assassinations and the court’s head and prosecutors are not removed from the case, then this case will result very positively,” said Doğan, stating that he was frequently receiving death threats.

In a previous trial, suspect Varol Bülent Aral, shouted at the court: “Down with your justice, you crooks. You will pay for this. [Judge] Hayrettin Kısa, I will shoot you in the head.”

Doğan also said they had underlined from the very beginning that the Zirve massacre case was directly related to the Ergenekon coup-plot case. “Enlightening the Zirve massacre case will also shed light on the murders of Father Santoro [which was committed in the Black Sea province of Trabzon in 2006] and [Armenian journalist] Hrant Dink,” Doğan said.

Doğan also said a report sent to a parliamentary research commission by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) revealed that the Zirve massacre was committed by the White Forces, a counter-guerilla unit working under the Special Operations Department. “More documents have been revealed. They show that Hurşit Tolon is the head of the White Forces,” Doğan said.

No evidence: Tolon’s lawyer

But Tolon’s lawyer, İlkay Sezer, said Tolon felt deeply sorrow for being associated with the murders at the publishing house, adding that there was no evidence that connected the two cases.

“It is unacceptable that the arrest warrant resulted from the abstract allegations of a former specialized sergeant, after six years had passed,” Sezer said.

“No connection has been found between the suspects, their accomplices and my client. Neither a phone call, nor a statement nor physical contact,” Sezer said, adding that what happened to Tolon was part of a 10-year-old campaign to discredit the Turkish military.

Three missionaries, German citizen Tillman Geske and two Turks, Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel, were tied up and tortured before their throats were slit at the Zirve Publishing House on April 18, 2007.

Five young men, age 19 and 20 at the time of the killings, confessed to the murder and were arrested for the crime. However, authorities have continued to investigate the case, which is believed by many to be an act of the “deep state,” rather than a group of independent fanatics.