General to witness in long-debated case

General to witness in long-debated case

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
General to witness in long-debated case

A court determines that retired Gendarmerie Commander Gen. Aytaç Yalman must testify in court as a witness in the ongoing case.

The case concerning Operation Return to Life, in which several prison inmates died after security forces raided 20 prisons across Turkey, is just a formality, a former convict in Istanbul’s Bayrampaşa prison who witnessed the operation has said.

“The case is only a formality just like [coup leader] Kenan Evren’s charges,” Fehmi Küçükarslan said.
 “The state wants to create an impression as if the dark incidents that happened in the past have been solved. Several people will come and testify, and the true criminals will not be punished.”

Gendarmerie tried in court

Thirty-nine gendarmerie personnel are being tried in the case, and an Istanbul court recently determined that retired Gendarmerie Commander Gen. Aytaç Yalman must testify in court as a witness within the case.

“Yalman’s testimony will not relieve me; the true criminals must be found and charged,” Küçükarslan said.

“This was a deliberate and planned operation launched by the state. They exposed us not only to physical violence but also used chemical gas.

Some of my friends’ skin was burned by the chemicals, and some of them are still receiving treatment and have not completely recovered yet.”

Dozens of inmates died in a hunger strike in 2000 to protest the movement of inmates from dormitories to cells. Some 30 prisoners and two soldiers were also killed when security forces stormed jails in December of that year in an operation known as “Return to Life” to end the protest.

ECHR ruling

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered the payment of 69,000 euros to four victims of the operation “Return to Life” last week.

The court ordered Turkey to pay 15,000 euros as non-pecuniary damage each to applicants Erol Arıkan, Dinçer Otluçimen and Turhan Tarakcı, and 20,000 euros to Hacer Arıkan, who were all in Bayrampaşa Prison during the operation. Turkey was also ordered to pay 4,000 euros to the four applicants jointly for costs and expenses.