/ languages

Choisir langue


Turkish court charges colonel, ex-mayor with Kurds' murder

Article published on the 2009-03-25 Latest update 2009-03-25 15:22 TU

A pro-PKK demonstrator at Kurdish New Year celebrations in Diyarbakir this week(Photo: Reuters)

A pro-PKK demonstrator at Kurdish New Year celebrations in Diyarbakir this week
(Photo: Reuters)

A court in the south-eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir has jailed a paramilitary colonel, a former mayor and the mayor's son after the discovery of so-called "death pits", alleged to contain the remains of sympathisers of the Kurdish-separatist PKK. Witnesses say that Colonel Cemal Temizoz handed people suspected of helping the guerrillas to a pro-Ankara armed group.

Temizoz was charged on Wednesday with membership of an illegal armed organisation and inciting murder. He is accused of handing suspects to the Turkish Hizbullah, a banned Islamist group which opposes the breakaway of the Kurdish-majority south-east.

Temizoz is currently the commander of paramilitary police in the central city of Kayseri but was based in the south-east at the time.

On Tuesday Kamal Atak, the the former mayor of the village of Cizre, with murder and membership of an illegal organisation, having alread charged his son, Temel.

The two were members of the village guards, Kurdish militias set up and armed by the government to fight the PKK and allegedly organised the abduction and murder of PKK sympathisers.

The case came to light after a PKK defector, who had become a state informer, described murders to the news media. They led to the excavation of nearly 20 bones, which are believed to be human, near Cizre.

The defector claimed that bodies were thrown into pits filled with acid or buried along the road near the village.

"There are 70,000 militia groups called 'village guards' in south-eastern Anatolia," correspondent Yilmaz Akinci told RFI. "They have been involved in a lot of different criminal cases in south-eastern Anatolia since 1990 – a lot of rape cases, a lot of murders and a lot attacks, a lot of robberies."

Q+A: Diyarbakir correspondent Yilmaz Akinci

25/03/2009 by Salil Sarkar

Official figures on deaths during the dirty war are widely believed to be underestimates, says Akinci.

"Official statistics put unsolved murders between 1991 and 1995 at 1,412. Human rights groups reckon that at least 5,000 died, including over 1,000 missing persons who are presumed dead, only in south-eastern Anatolia."

The Prime Minister of Iraq's Kurdish region called on the PKK to end armed attacks on Turkey from his soil on Wednesday.

Nechirvan Barzani said that it is "not reasonable for a group to carry out attacks against a state and then return to our region".

On Monoday President Jalal talabani, who is also a Kurd, told the guerrillas to lay down their arms or leave the country, after meeting Turkish President Abdullah Gul.