Turkey: Ergenekon Death Squad Founder to Testify in Sept. 12 Probe

Today's Zaman | May 11, 2011

İbrahim Şahin, who is currently in jail as a suspect in the investigation into the coup-plotting gang Ergenekon on charges of having formed death squads using police officers in order to carry out assassinations for the group, will testify as a suspect in an investigation into torture and killings committed in Diyarbakır Prison after the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d’état.

The investigation, being conducted by the Diyarbakır Prosecutor’s Office, was launched after complaints were filed by some people who were inmates of Diyarbakır Prison -- a military correctional facility at the time -- between 1980 and 1984.

The prosecutor’s office is now calling the alleged torturers to testify as suspects. One of the complainants alleged that he had been tortured by Şahin, who is a former deputy chief of the National Police Department’s Special Operations Unit.

Although Şahin never served in Diyarbakır Prison officially, he was assigned to various posts at different times during that period in nearby cities. The prosecutor suspects that Şahin might have also spent time in Diyarbakır Prison on a temporary assignment. The prosecution has also sent an inquiry to the National Police Department, requesting a detailed breakdown of Şahin’s places of assignment during those years. The prosecution has notified the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court -- which is hearing the second Ergenekon trial, in which Şahin is a suspect -- that it will question the former special operations deputy chief about his involvement in atrocities committed in Diyarbakır Prison. Hundreds of people who were incarcerated in Diyarbakır Prison have filed criminal complaints against prison staff with the Diyarbakır Prosecutor’s Office.

Around 700 people filed criminal complaints in October of last year, alleging that they had been subjected to ill-treatment during their incarceration at the prison, leading to the current investigation.

The ill-treatment in Diyarbakır Prison is believed to have played a major role in the establishment and rapid growth of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist organization Turkey has been fighting for many years. The group demands autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds in the country’s Southeast. More than 40,000 people have been killed in clashes between Turkish security forces and the PKK.


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