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Susurluk scandal reshapes Turkish politics
|Susurluk scandal reshapes Turkish politics » DYP clears RP in Mercumek commission » Anatolia news agency silent on Thursday » New Year's Eve: Fun calls for fat wallets » Choice of casino sites generates debate » Seven million sign for restricted immunity » RP circles angered by Military Council decisions » Ciller accused of supplying tribal chief, the murderer of seven soldiers, with weapons » Financial Crimes Department operations in Istanbul » Court releases six suspects in IBDA-C case|
|Turkish Daily News Electronic Edition, Domestic News Section, Dec 12 1996
Domestic News Page Contents
Susurluk scandal reshapes Turkish politics
By Ayla Ganioglu / TDN Parliamentary Bureau
ANKARA- An unexpected collision of a mercedes with a truck in the western town of Susurluk on Nov. 3 rocked the entire country with the emergence of scandalous links between the government's top officials and the members of the criminal underworld. Now the political life, already perplexed by the aftershocks of the accident enters a new phase in which its displaced elements begin to reshape themselves.
The accident differed from other isolated incidents as a senior police officer and an ultra-right wing terrorist suspect were killed in the same car, while another passanger, a deputy from the coalition-partner True Path Party (DYP) was injured, thus leaving the DYP leader Tansu Ciller as the number one target of the opposition. The consecutive press claims based on secret intelligence reports asserting that Ciller was allegedly leading a private security organization made of police officers and ultra-nationalist terrorists, and the resignation of a DYP minister that followed these claims, added on the accusations Ciller had to face. It is now leaving the Welfare Party (RP), the coalition's senior partner led by Necmettin Erbakan to have the last word to determine the future of both Ciller and the other political parties.
The Nov. 3 accident became a turning point in Turkish politics as some circles started to use phrases like pre-Susurluk and post-Susurluk eras. The fate of political life in the post-Susurluk era meanwhile will be decided by RP leader and Prime Minister Erbakan.
Although more than a month passed after the Susurluk accident, Erbakan has not appeared in a directly incriminating mood against Ciller. The harmonious-performance of the coalition which was claimed by both RP and DYP members was stalled after Interior Minister Meral Aksener who is known with her close ties with the Ciller family had suspended Istanbul's security chief Kemal Yazicioglu despite Erbakan's objection to it. However the RP wing of the coalition did not consider Aksener's move a reason to break up the partnership.
Debates on the coalition's prospects still continue in the post-Susurluk era despite the Welfare's cautious mood. Political analysts believe the RP has not made its final decision on the coalition's future and is still trying to save more time.
Here are several assumptions regarding the positions of the parties which play key roles in the most probable post-Susurluk developments:The Welfare Party (RP):
At the current stage, Welfare seems to maintain the partnership with the DYP, since the inevitable weakening of the latter in the post-Susurluk era has helped the strengthening of the former. This, analysts believe, would provide the senior coalition partner a larger room to move. Many Welfare members consider a message by the main opposition Motherland Party (ANAP) to form a new coalition by throwing out the DYP, a tactic to draw the RP away from power. They express mistrust against ANAP leader Mesut Yilmaz who had once given up to form a coalition with the RP at the last moment.
Meanwhile, some predict the RP will not be able to stand against pressures any longer. Erbakan's move to launch a probe after meeting with President Suleyman Demirel for the first time since the accident took place is seen as the reflection of these pressures.
Wednesday's press headlines covering a letter sent by President Demirel to Prime Minister Erbakan which the Welfare members described "unimportant", has again put the RP in dire straits. The letter contained Demirel's remarks that found main opposition leader Yilmaz's claims "very serious".
Erbakan's second meeting with Demirel that is to take place as part of Demirel's efforts to have talks with all political party leaders, is also believed to have significance. During this meeting Demirel is also expected to convey Erbakan, as he did to the opposition leaders, his message saying "let the investigaton goes as far as it will."
It is widely believed within the political circles that the RP will be left with two options, either to declare early elections or form a new coalition with the ANAP. ANAP members predict that Erbakan might decide for early elections as far as the next Spring, but it would be inconvenient for the RP to run with the DYP. Some other ANAP members also say the RP may base its election propaganda on attacks against DYP.
The possibility of aligning with ANAP also seems reasonable in case the pressures on the RP intensify.The Motherland Party (ANAP):
ANAP leader Mesut Yilmaz has drawn a post-Susurluk strategy by targeting DYP leader Ciller. Although Yilmaz came up with many claims of alleged state-mafia links, he is facing the hardship caused by the still unresolved mystery despite it has been more than a month since the accident occured. It is believed that the prolonged investigation would work against ANAP and cause the silenced opposition in the party to revolt.
The ANAP leader is trying to bring down the coalition from inside by pressing Erbakan to launch further inquiries on the incident. Knowing that his personal efforts will not be enough for success, Yilmaz relies on President Demirel's support. The ANAP members who believe the need to keep the DYP away from power to solve the mystery, are open to other alternatives including a coaltion with the RP.The True Path Party (DYP):
In the post-Susurluk era, DYP leader Tansu Ciller is having her hardest time in politics. She is struggling to maintain the RP-DYP coalition since she believes an end to partnership would mean more troubles for her. The DYP deputies are puzzled with so many allegations aimed at Ciller. The suspension of Istanbul's security chief met by some complaints within the party. Some DYP members regarded it as a great mistake.
Ciller thinks Yilmaz's internal problems within ANAP is the only reason to why the Susurluk incident has occupied the political agenda so long. She waits for his efforts to strike ANAP like a boomerang, expecting that it would cause a counter-movement against Yilmaz.
In her latest move,Ciller, whose political future completely depends on Erbakan's decision, used her powers in the DYP to clear up accusations against the RP ina parliamentary commission which was originally set up by the DYP itself. This move on the other hand is seen as a sign of gratitude towards RP who cleared up Ciller from charges in two corruption cases, as well as of a need for RP's support during the post-Susurluk era.
DYP clears RP in Mercumek commission
TDN Parliament Bureau
ANKARA- The parliamentary commission set up to investigate the issue whether there is any illegal financial link between the senior coalition partner Welfare Party (RP) and Suleyman Mercumek, who is on trial for failing to send the funds collected to help Bosnia to the relevant organizations, cleared the RP of all charges.
Despite objections from opposition members of the commission, the decision was passed with the backing of the True Path Party (DYP) commission members. While the five members from the ruling RP-DYP coalition defended that there existed no legal connection between the RP and Mercumek, four commission members from the opposition rejected this claim.
The parliamentary investigative commission was established with a motion which the DYP presented prior to its forming a coalition with the RP. The DYP had, at that time, claimed that Mercumek was the Welfare Party's "secret safe" and that the RP had had unlawful financial sources. It had also claimed that the money collected from hadjj organizations within and outside Turkey, and funds gathered to help Bosnia had been transferred to the RP via Mercumek.
While the commission accepted the report clearing the RP of all charges prepared by the deputy chairman of the commission, RP's Mehmet Ali Sahin, the Motherland Party (ANAP), the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Democratic Left Party (DSP) members of the commission said they would submit their own report to Parliament.
During Wednesday's session of the commission, Mustafa Kul, the CHP chairman of the commission, showed adverse reaction to the passage of the report which cleared the RP. Kul resigned from his post.
The report prepared by Kul which was also agreed by the ANAP and the DSP members of the commission wanted a complaint be filed against the RP at the office of the prosecutor. It stressed that it was unlawful for the RP to send the TL 65 billion aid which it had received from the Treasury to Mercumek.
ANAP Parliamentary Group Deputy Chairman Murat Basesgioglu who held a press conference in Parliament said that the commission's decision had once again showed that the RP-DYP coalition had been set up to cover up the corruption dossiers mutually. Halil Ibrahim Ozsoy, an ANAP member of the commission said that the commission had resulted in fiasco.
The High Appeals Court recently reversed a criminal court ruling which had earlier sentenced Mercumek to more than four years in prison and a fine of TL 20.6 trillion.
The prosecutor is demanding a prison term of up to 22.5 years in prison and a fine exceeding the nearly DM 1.5 million which the defendant is alleged to have embezzled.
Anatolia news agency silent on Thursday
Turkish Daily News
ANKARA- Anatolia news agency personnel working at the Ankara headquarters and the group's regional bureaus are set to walk out on Thursday morning. Nearly 450 agency employees will go on strike, ceasing work at 10 a.m.
In a written statement, the Turkish Journalists' Union (TGC) Chairman Ziya Sonay said that agency management was responsible for delaying the collective bargaining process by four months.
"It is definite that 450 members (of our union) will proceed with a strike Thursday on morning due to management's continued negligence towards the overwhelming effects of inflation on agency personnel, who have not received a pay raise for nine months," the statement said.
Sonay said their main objective was not to paralyze the agency with a strike but to give the management a warning against disrespecting union members' rights.
Sonay also called on other unions, civic organizations and the public to support the strike.
New Year's Eve: Fun calls for fat wallets
Turkish Daily News
ANKARA- Travel agencies, hotels, night clubs and restaurants are offering New Year's Eve programs for those who want to do something special to celebrate, the Anatolia news agency reported.
Tours within Turkey and abroad have been planned by many travel groups. Those who aim to spend the New Year's holiday in another country can expect to pay roughly TL 200 million while people who opt for packages in Turkey should plan on paying TL 25 to 100 million.
The cost of spending the night in a luxurious hotel, entertainment by a famous singer and unlimited bar service included, will run close to TL 70 million.
Choice of casino sites generates debate
Turkish Daily News
ANKARA- The debate on where to locate Turkey's casinos continued following the Tourism Ministry's decision to cluster the casinos in three centers, the Anatolia news agency reported.
Some casino owners suggested Kumburgaz and Silivri, two districts in Istanbul, but the Tourism Ministry rejected the proposal as it would create unfair competition.
Tourism Minister Bahattin Yucel said that the decision to put the casinos in three centers has become the government's policy. Yucel indicated that the plan they hoped to realize in Turkey was in use all around the world. He said that the casinos would move to the centers within the next three years.
Association of Casino Entrepreneurs (TOMI) chairman Erhan Akbulut noted that the ministry had suggested the Yassiada district in Istanbul but said that they would not move there.
Akbulut indicated that moving to the centers would take at least five years.
The Tourism Ministry is proposing Antalya, Yassiada, Pamukkale, Cappadocia, Palandoken, Erciyes, Uludag, Hasandagi, Ilgaz as possible sites for the casinos.
Seven million sign for restricted immunity
Turkish Daily News
ANKARA- Main opposition Motherland Party (ANAP) deputies submitted to Parliament Speaker Mustafa Kalemli, petition sheets showing seven million signatures of people who support the "Limitation of Political Immunity" campaign carried out in all parts of Turkey, the Anatolia news agency reported.
The truck carrying the papers came to Parliament accompanied by a convoy escort. The sacks were distributed to ANAP deputies according to their electoral regions, and were taken from there to Kalemli's office.
ANAP Parliamentary Group Deputy Chairman Cumhur Ersumer read aloud the declaration entitled, "Let Justice Touch Them." "I chose you to serve your country and people ... I gave you the armour of immunity. I, as a citizen, want you to express your thoughts and ideas freely in Parliament but I find it dishonorable for you to be involved in corruption, bribery, etc. The representatives of the people should not need such protection. Otherwise, I will lose my faith in you. I expect political immunity to be restricted ...," Turkish citizens wrote to the deputies.
Kalemli said research on restricting political immunity was underway and thanked citizens for their concern in the matter. "These (petitions) will accelerate the commission's studies," he said.
RP circles angered by Military Council decisions
By Kemal Balci and Ayla Ganioglu / TDN Parliament Bureau
ANKARA- Welfare Party (RP) deputies have sided up with the 69 officers expelled from the army for breach of discipline. RP Sanliurfa Deputy Ibrahim Halil Celik said that the Supreme Military Council decision to this effect amounted to an "execution without a trial", and criticized his own party for becoming a tool for that process.
Mehmet Sadik Altay, a RP deputy with a military background, said that he was against the Supreme Military Council decisions as a whole. Noting that there can be no appeal against the Council decisions, he wondered if the chief of staff's office did not trust the military courts.
RP deputies maintain that officers have been expelled not because of breach of discipline but due to their religious beliefs.
RP deputies are upset by the fact that the Council decision to this effect bears the signature of RP leader and Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. Their reaction is one of, "This is wrong regardless of who undersigned the decision." They said that to express their indignation they were drafting a motion which would call for cuts in the Defense Ministry's proposed 1997 budget.
Halil Ibrahim Celik told the TDN, "The RP has become a tool for an execution without trial. In a democratic society there can be no decision outside judicial inspection. Article 125 of the Constitution amounts to constitutionalization of execution without trial. If the persons expelled from the army have committed crimes, the charges against them must be brought before the courts, and they must be punished if found guilty. Expelling those who are not guilty with a Supreme Military Council decision would be execution without trial. For that reason I protest vigorously the expulsion of full and non-commissioned officers from the army on the basis of Supreme Military Council decisions.
Celik said that the Chief of Staff should be attached to the Defense Ministry as soon as possible. Under the current system the Chief of Staff's office is answerable to the Prime Ministry.
Celik also said, "The National Security Board should be scrapped immediately. There can be no will superseding the will of Parliament. If this Parliament fails to do what it is needed on this issue we can not be a democratic society. And this will be a shame for Parliament. We will be a democratic society when the elected will no longer be under the orders of the appointed ones."RP deputy with a military background
RP Agri Deputy Mehmet Sadik Altay, who has a military background, shares Celik's conviction that no officer should be expelled from the army with Supreme Military Council decisions outside the judicial inspection.
Altay, a retired colonel who had served as an engineer in the Airforce, said that he was against all the decisions taken by the Supreme Military Council to date. He stressed that these were all wrong. He said, "These decisions are not appealable. In this country the Constitutional Court may reverse Parliament's decisions but the Supreme Military Council decisions are not subject to judicial inspection. Article 125 of the Constitution was formulated simply to prevent disruption of hierarchy in the army, to prevent the generals from returning to the army. But it came to be implemented for everybody. The military courts are authorized to try the organizations which attempt to alter the Constitution at gunpoint but the disciplinary offenses are being prevented from being brought before the courts. Is it that the Chief of Staff's Office does not trust the military courts?"
Asked why PM Erbakan signed decision, Altay said, "There may be certain aspects not known to us. I do not know. We discussed the issue at a meeting of the RP group in Parliament prior to the Council's Aug.30 decisions. PM Erbakan, our chairman, knows about our reaction, our views on this issue. I guess he would explain to the group why, despite that, he has signed the decision."
RP Diyarbakir Deputy Abdulkadir Aksu, a former interior minister who has deserted the Motherland Party (ANAP) to join the RP, said, in reaction to the Council decisions, "We are so far from switching to genuine democracy. That could take a century."
Deputy Chairman of the RP group in Parliament Sivas Karamollaoglu, Deputy from Sivas, said, referring to the fact that Erbakan has signed the decision, "There was no way the prime minister could express doubts about a file investigated and presented to him by an establishment attached to him. The real problem is that these decisions are not appealable. This should be made possible."
RP Istanbul Deputy Bahri Zengin said that if officers are being expelled from the army as "Islamic fundamentalists" merely because of their religious beliefs or because their wives wear headscarves in the Islamic fashion, that would be totally unacceptable. That would reflect a "primitive mentality". Noting that the RP has been a partner in government for only five months, Zengin said that some citizens expected a sudden ceasing of such incidents. He said that this was not possible, that "these will continue for some more time but whatever is needed will be done."
Zengin said that such practices stemmed from the existing laws. He promised that the government would bring about legal arrangements to render the Supreme Military Council decisions appealable and to change the dress code. Stressing that there would be no quitting the government because of such things, he said, "Being in the government is the starting point of a transformation of this kind. Certain traditional bigotries are continuing but these will be corrected in time."
To express their reaction to the Council decision, RP deputies are planning to table unanimously a motion which would make cuts in the Defense Ministry's draft 1997 budget which will be debated in Parliament on Dec.13.
Ciller accused of supplying tribal chief, the murderer of seven soldiers, with weapons
By Jan Pacal / Turkish Daily News
ISTANBUL- Turkey has been tormented by the Susurluk accident for over a month now. The incident, which exposed the cooperation of a parliamentarian, a police chief and an outlaw wanted under an Interpol red bulletin, led to allegations that the state is involved in dirty activities, protecting and supporting outlaws.
A number of documents have also come to light which have resulted in new claims and allegations being made nearly every day. These allegations indicate the involvement of official figures and officials in shady activities in cooperation with wanted criminals.
High-ranking security department chief Huseyin Kocadag, who lost his life in the Susurluk accident, was travelling with True Path Party (DYP) parliamentary deputy Sedat Bucak, a tribal chief with some 30,000 armed men, and Abdullah Catli.
The revelation that one of the victims of the accident was Catli, responsible for the killing of seven youths in Ankara in 1978 in addition to drug smuggling and being wanted by Interpol under a red bulletin, led to serious question marks. According to the claims, Catli was a wanted criminal, an infamous ultra-right wing militant and his name had been mentioned along with the leading figures of the Italian Gladio organization.
Has the state protected other outlaws in addition to Abdullah Catli? While many have replied with a definite "yes" to this question, the deputy prime minister, Tansu Ciller and her parliamentary group have denied the claims.The unholy alliance: authorities meet criminals
In 1993 though, allegations are now being made that a meeting took place between the highest representatives of the Turkish state, top security officials and a group of 12 people, whom, it is alleged, were outlaws.
At the meeting was Tansu Ciller, along with President Suleyman Demirel, the then speaker of parliament, Husamettin Cindoruk, the then General Commander of the Gendarmerie, Aydin Ilter, the Interior Minister of the time, Nahit Mentese, and the then General Chief of Police, Mehmet Agar. The 12 people they met included some who were allegedly outlaws responsible for killing soldiers, and police officers who were brought in from the South East secretly on a private plane.
These people have been on state TV, on the "Aci" program and have been hosted in a police guesthouse. They have been introduced as the most influential Kurdish tribal chiefs.
These "most respected Kurdish Tribal Chiefs" were Ahmet Zeydan, Tahir Adiyaman, Kamil Atak, Abdurrahman Ozbek, Suleyman Tatar, Abdurrahman Seylan, Hazim Abat, Osman Demir, Ramazan Cetin, Dilbaz Uncu, Isterder Ertus and Hakki Ture.
Tansu Ciller allegedly addressed these men, who have lengthy criminal records, saying: "We are going to overcome terrorism together." Reports suggest that she then went on to guarantee that all their needs were to be supplied. The said "needs" were heavy machine guns, such as MG-3s and BCXs, RPG rocket launchers and flame throwers. The state refused the tribal chiefs' demand of howitzers and police tanks, but agreed wage increases for the village guards, the local militias who are stationed in the towns and hamlets of the South East.
The Susurluk accident revealed that according to the Turkish Criminal Code the leading figures of the state and the government had committed a crime by hosting "the state-friendly tribal chiefs" in their offices. Article 296 of the Turkish Criminal Code states: "Anyone who knows the location of those who have been sentenced or are wanted is subject to imprisonment of between three and five years if they do not inform the authorities."
The minister of public works and housing of that period and a close witness of the meeting, Serafettin Elci, states the charge clearly.
"In spite of the clear verdict of the Criminal Code, there were people among the invited who have been accused of manslaughter and drug smuggling, who were sentenced to death and wanted by the authorities."
He adds that Tansu Ciller and others who attended the meetings were quite aware of this situation.
"The state has to be a lawful institution and should maintain its security by lawful means," Elci states. "It should not need to cooperate with outlaws. If the state solves its problems through unlawful activities, its very existence becomes the subject of discussion. The state puts its self-esteem in jeopardy if it resorts to unlawful channels, as revealed by the Susurluk accident, and citizens will then have serious concerns. The authorities who have illegal intentions without the information of the higher authorities should be dismissed."
Elci also says that the state made the decision to corporate with the outlaws in 1993.
"The decision was made in 1993; few were briefed about it before the meeting. But by 1993, the National Security Council (MGK) was informed about the invitation of these people to Ankara and the arms aid. In other words, the MGK has approved and covered up the aid to these outlaws," Elci says.
"Among the state-friendly outlaws, Tahir Yaman was charged withthe killing of soldiers and a prosecutor in 1975 and should still be wanted since he was not acquitted. Yaman is also a military service dodger. It is dangerous for the state that an outlaw threatens people with the support of the state."
Stating that there have been many examples since 1993 of the relations that came to light with the Susurluk accident, Elci says that there were many former PKK members in the state who had confessed and have been used in illegal activities.
Elci then points out a statement by former Minister of the Interior Mehmet Agar.
"Agar confirmed that they had organized thousands of operations. No one was informed about them. There have been thousands of summary executions in the South East and it is impossible that those responsible for thousands of murders cannot be found. If the murderers have not been found, it means that the state protects them. The unresolved murders would come to light if the state did not protect the murderers," he says.Who is who: portraits of the state-friendly criminals
* Tahir Adiyaman (Jirki Tribe): He has 350 armed village guards and owns eight villages. He was prosecuted for the murder of seven soldiers in his village in 1975. A court order for his arrest is still in effect. His name was mentioned in connection with the murder of the prosecutor Abdurrahman Caduk in December 16, 1976, who had survived from incident in which the soldiers were killed. Tahir Adiyaman has been wanted for 18 years and has been avoiding his military service. He was a fugitive in 1993.
While Tahir Adiyaman was shaking hands with the state, the Criminal Court Prosecutor of Isparta demanded with an official letter, No. 988/22, to the Isparta Prosecutor's Office on September 29, 1993 that they rule "(...) the court order in the absence of the arrest of the accused who has not been caught to this date to continue until the accused is caught."
* Hakki Ture (Beyzade Tribe): The population of his village is 500 and he has 70 armed village guards. It is known that his brother and his son served long prison terms for drug smuggling.
* Suleyman Tatar (Tatar Tribe): He has 200 armed village guards. He does not own any villages. It is known that he has been on the run for a murder he committed, but it is unknown whether he served his sentence.
* Hazim Babat (Babat Tribe): He represents a family of 1,500 people in Senoba, and has 80 armed men. It is known that a member of his tribe, Yakup Kara, and himself killed the Hilal district mayor and four of the mayor's men in 1990, as part of a blood feud between the families.
* Ahmet Benek (Benek Tribe): He was prosecuted by the State Security Court of Malatya in 1986 for drug smuggling and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. He had served in Malatya and Mardin prisons until his release with the 1991 change of punishment law.
Financial Crimes Department operations in Istanbul
Turkish Daily News
ISTANBUL- Over the past 11 months, police teams from the Financial Crimes Department have seized fake invoices to the value of TL19.536 trillion and uncovered forged documents, swindles and smugglers in their operations.
According to information announced by the Istanbul Security Department's Financial Crimes chief, Ercument Ozbeyli, on Wednesday, various operations have been carried out in the last 11 months. Fake documents and jewellery costing TL1.36 billion, smuggled alcohol and cigarettes, automobiles, fur, telephones, household appliances and guns have been seized and many other cases have been brought to light.
Ozbeyli said that the operations were continuing and that his department would stop those who earned money via illegal ways.
Court releases six suspects in IBDA-C case
Turkish Daily News
ANKARA- The state security court here decided on Wednesday to release six of the 13 defendants who were accused of staging a fundamentalist demonstration to spread propaganda for the outlawed IBDA-C and Hizbullah organizations and provoke people to hatred by fostering religious discrimination.
The defendants are accused of staging a pro-Shariah demonstration after the noon prayers on Oct. 4. They denied charges that they had chanted slogans in favor of the illegal organizations.
In his indictment, the prosecutor stated that the defendants had chanted slogans such as "The Islamic movement cannot be obstructed," and "Palestine will become a graveyard for Israel." He is demanding prison terms of up to five years under the Anti-terrorism Law.
The defendants' attorneys held that there were no grounds for the continued detention of their clients. The court postponed the hearing to a later date in order to complete court documents.
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