Wednesday, December 30, 2009

General Staff Denies Connections to JİTEM

Tolga KORKUT - The General Staff has sent a writ to the court dealing with the JITEM case saying, "There is no such established unit connected to us". Lawyer Elçi awaits a reply on the matter by the Gendarmerie Command. Meanwhile, witnesses have claimed evidence for the existence of JİTEM.

The Chief of General Staff has sent a writ to the Diyarbakır 3rd High Criminal Court regarding the trial known as the "JITEM case", stating, "A unit called JITEM does not exist within our structure".

JİTEM (Gendarmerie Intelligence Anti-Terrorism Unit) is a clandestine and highly illegal gendarmerie intelligence unit set up in the late 1980s to counter ethnic separatism in the south-east of Turkey. The anti-terrorism unit is accused of extrajudicial killings.

Upon the request of joint attorney Tahir Elçi, the court had asked the General Staff "whether a unit called JİTEM exists and in case it does, when it was established and whether it is still being active".

The reply was sent by Judge Colonel Orhan Önder, Criminal Justice Affairs Branch President, "on behalf of the General Staff".
Awaiting an answer from the Gendarmerie Command

Lawyer Elçi spoke to bianet and said that now they are expecting a reply from the Gendarmerie General Command which was asked the same questions. Elçi commented the writing of the General Staff, "The text is very limited indeed. It is not understandable and it makes you want to hoot. It says 'There is no such unit within our structure'. I am curious about the answer the Gendarmerie Command will give on the matter".

Witnesses' statements regarding JİTEM

According to testimonies from people who worked within the JİTEM structure or had other encounters with the anti-terror unit, JİTEM seems to exist and furthermore to be responsible for illegal activities, for killings known as "unsolved" murders or for enforced disappearances of people.

Arif Doğan: As stated in the indictment of the Ergenekon case, defendant Retired Colonel Arif Doğan founded JİTEM within the Gendarmerie General Command together with Majors Hüseyin Kara, Cem Ersever and Captains Aytekin Özen and Ali Yıldız. Later on, Doğan allegedly transferred the management of the unit to Brigadier General Veli Küçük. The indictment includes excerpts concerning illegal activities carried out by JİTEM, such as bombing the JİTEM building and leaving a claim of responsibility from the PKK (militant Kurdistan Workers' Party), being in touch with an illegal organization (in this case it is referred to Hezbollah), instant executions, civilian armed task forces and forged IDs.

JİTEM payroll: Former PKK member and later member of JİTEM Abdülkadir Aygan talked in detail about which murders had been committed in what ways during the time when Abdülkerim Kırca was at the Diyarbakır command. Kırca has supposedly committed suicide later on. When Brigadier General Küçük said "JİTEM does not exist", Aygan presented a payroll dated from March 1993 labeled "Place of duty: JİTEM".

Hanefi Avcı: In his statement regarding the "JİTEM case", Diyarbakır Intelligence Branch President from 1984-1992 Hanefi Avcı confirmed the existence of the organization. He testified, "JİTEM signboards were posted in the Diyarbakır Public Order Corps Command and in the Diyarbakır Regiment Command. Those parties participated in different public order assessments as commissioned by the JİTEM Command. When Corps Commander Hikmet Köksal was Commander of the Diyarbakır Public Order Corps, all units were subordinate to him, and so was JİTEM".
Next hearing on 31 December

10 defendants are tried in the case, stated to be JİTEM personnel by the prosecutor's office: İbrahim Babat, Adil Timurtaş, Mehmet Zahir Karadeniz, Lokman Gündüz, Faysal Şanlı, Recep Tiril, Abdülkadir Aygan, Ali Ozansoy, Hüseyin Tilki, Hayrettin Toka and Hacı Hasan who currently resides in Syria.

The next hearing of the case will be held on 31 December. (TK/VK)