ANKARA: Clandestine Military Unit Behind Zirve Killings, Indictment


Today’s Zaman
June 24 2012

The Zirve Publishing House massacre, in which three Christian
publishers based in Malatya were brutally murdered in 2007, is
claimed to have been organized by a clandestine organization within
the Turkish Armed Forces called the National Strategies and Operations
Department of Turkey (TUSHAD).

According to the indictment, TUSHAD was established in 1993 by
former four-star Gen. Hurþit Tolon, on instructions from the illegal
Ergenekon organization, while Tolon was serving as secretary-general
of the General Staff. The 761-page indictment lists 19 suspects and
was recently accepted by the Malatya 3rd Specially Authorized High
Criminal Court. In the additional indictment, Tolon, also a key
suspect in the Ergenekon investigation — together with retired Col.

Mehmet Ulger, a former Malatya gendarmerie regiment commander,
and Maj. Haydar Yeþil — stands among the accused. According to the
prosecutors, the Zirve massacre was carried out by the Malatya cell

The prosecution claims that efforts were made to transfer the blame
to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and religiously
conservative groups.

Tolon, who is said to have revised the secret organization in
1995, 1999 and 2004 upon instructions from the Ergenekon terrorist
organization, is accused in the indictment of soliciting the Zirve
massacre, in which Necati Aydýn, Uður Yuksel and Tilmann Geske
were killed.

Tolon’s name is also connected with JÝTEM, a counterterrorism
unit founded illegally within the gendarmerie, also believed to
be responsible for hundreds of thousands of unsolved murders and
disappearances in predominantly Kurdish areas of the country in the
1990s. According to the indictment, TUSHAD worked in coordination
with JÝTEM. The prosecution claims Tolon established a number of units
within TUSHAD, including one working against missionary activities.

The indictment includes records of phone calls between Tolon and Fatih
Hilmioðlu, the former president of Ýnonu University in Malatya. There
seems to be a sudden increase in the number of calls between the two
men ahead of the Zirve massacre. The indictment also notes that Tolon
visited Malatya twice prior to the murders — one visit occurring
the day before the killings — although he initially denied visiting
Malatya in his testimony.

The prosecutor demands two consecutive life sentences without parole
for Tolon for his role in the Zirve killings.

The Malatya murders are thought to be part of the Cage Action Plan,
a subversive plot allegedly devised by military officers seeking to
undermine the government through the assassination of non-Muslims and
other acts of terror. The Cage plan was allegedly drawn up by order
of Ergenekon. Cage plan documents specifically describe the killings
of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, Catholic priest Father
Andrea Santoro and the three Christians in Malatya as an “operation.”

An anti-democratic group within the Naval Forces Command thought to
be behind the Cage plan had intended to use the killings to foment
chaos in society, but complained that the plan failed when large
segments of society protested the deaths in mass demonstrations.

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