Probe into General Bitlis’ death dropped due to statute of limitations
ESKİŞEHİR – Doğan News Agency
Former Gendarmerie Cmdr Gen Eşref Bitlis died in a mysterious plane crash on Feb 17, 1993.An investigation into the death of former Gendarmerie Cmdr. Gen. Eşref Bitlis has ended without result due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, his son said Feb. 17.
Bitlis, an ardent supporter of resolving the Kurdish problem outside the parameters of the Turkish state’s official policies, died in a mysterious plane crash on Feb. 17, 1993. His suspicious death led to speculation that he was assassinated by the “deep state” because of his willingness to push for a plan to give more rights to Kurds.
“Today, it’s the 20th [anniversary of Eşref Bitlis’ death]. The legal dimension of the case has ended. But the Turkish public will be following the case. It’s my only assurance,” said Tarık Bitlis during a commemoration ceremony organized in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir. “I cannot do anything more legally, because at the point where we have reached, nothing will happen as long as some institutional structures keep their silence [as they have done] for 20 years. But I believe that the Turkish people will call them to account.”
Tarık Bitlis also said he had not considered applying to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to reopen the case, emphasizing that it was impossible to shed light on such incidents unless all of the entire Turkish political system was transformed.
The general’s son said officials from the Chief of General Staff and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) of the period should be questioned over the death of his father and that they should be exposed to the public if they claim not to have any information about the plane crash.
“[This is] because incidents [that led to Bitlis’ death] still happen,” he said.
The General Staff, the Gendarmerie General Command, MİT and the Security General Directorate have told prosecutors that they did not have any information or documents indicating that the plane was brought down as the result of sabotage.
Authorities examining photographs from the 1993 incident said last week that they were “unable to determine the cause of the crash.”