President Gül orders new probe into Sivas massacre

President Gül orders new probe into Sivas massacre

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
President Gül orders new probe into Sivas massacre

This file photo shows Madımak Hotel in Sivas on June 3, 1993, one day after 33 intellectuals and two hotel workers were killed inside the facility.

President Abdullah Gül has authorized a top state body to examine the controversies surrounding the killing of 35 people in a 1993 arson attack on a hotel that was hosting an Alevi festival, an incident dubbed the Madımak/Sivas massacre.

“As is known, the results of the incident that took place on July 1-2, 1993 in Sivas - and their impact on all those affected by the incident - are still continuing,” a statement posted on the presidency’s website on Nov. 30 said.

Some 33 intellectuals and two hotel workers died when radical Islamists attacked Sivas’ Madımak Hotel in 1993. Two assailants also died while attacking the hotel. An Ankara court dropped the case on the killings in March, ruling that the charges against the suspects exceeded the statute of limitations.

“For all concerned parties, the Madımak incident carries deep ambiguities and doubts with regard to the perception/understanding of the real content of the incidents and with regard to the conclusions that have previously been driven,” the statement said, adding that 114 non-governmental organizations had visited Gül to demand a re-examination of the incident.

“The president has authorized the State Audit Board [DDK] to investigate and examine the Madımak incident in its entirety with regard to its occurrence, targets, results and impacts, and also with regard to its connection to some incidents,” the statement added.Sivas Mayor Doğan Ürgüp, who headed the delegation of non-governmental organizations during the visit to Gül, welcomed the decision.

“We belive that this willl be an importatnt step in sheddinmg light on the unknown sides of the incident and reveling the truth,” Ürgüp told the Anatolia news agency in Sivas.

High-profile probes
The DDK has become increasingly visible and active in the last few years. It has inspected matters concerning former President Turgut Özal’s suspicious death; the controversy surrounding the 2009 helicopter crash that killed Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu, the head of the Great Union Party (BBP); as well as the responsibilities of public servants with regard to the assassination of Hrant Dink, the chief editor of weekly Agos, who was killed in Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007.

Most recently, the DDK came to public attention after its June 13 report that ruled Özal’s death “suspicious” and said it should be investigated, prompting prosecutors to open a case into the death. Özal’s body was exhumed in October, but an autopsy report has yet to be finished.

In early November, Gül ordered the DDK to audit a number of institutions, including the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry, the Turkish Red Crescent Society (Kızılay) and the Green Crescent Society (Yeşilay). The order was concerned with inspection and evaluation of the sufficiency of internal control systems in the institutions.