Turkey court drops case against Turkish commander accused of murdering Kurdish family


Dec 5, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas

A Turkish court on Monday dropped a case on the massacre of a Kurdish family allegedly committed by a Turkish commander and his soldiers three decades ago, on grounds of the expiration of the statute of limitations in the 21st hearing of the case.

The murder of the Kurdish family of nine, including seven children, at the hands of the Turkish armed forces on October 3, 1993, is known as the Vartinis massacre, taking the name from the village of Vartinis, where the massacre took place, in the province of Mus, Turkey.

In the hearing, the prosecution requested for the case against fugitive defendant Bulent Karaoglu, a veteran Turkish army commander who gave the order to burn the village and requested, to be dropped due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Aysel Ogut is the only survivor of the massacre in which her father, mother, and seven siblings were burned to death after their house was set on fire. Ogut attended the hearing at the Kırıkkale 1st High Criminal Court as a complainant, along with her husband Abdullah Ogut. Ogut accused Karaoglu of committing the massacre and burning their house.  

"The court's decision was unfair. We waited for so long. Everything was clear. Everything happened in front of us. Officer Bulent himself was in our village. The people of Vartinis all saw him. But now he says that he was not in the village of Vartinis that night. He was around the house. He brought a panzer [tank] to the window and killed my family. Today the court dropped the case," Ogut said.

Though the court issued an arrest warrant for the now retired Turkish armed forces commander Bulent Karaoglu on June 10, 2015, he was never arrested.

"This person [Bulent Karaoglu] has been protected for 30 years. And today's court decision was a huge disgrace. The state that considers itself a democratic state, today took such a shameful decision."

During the hearing of the case, family lawyers, representatives of human rights associations, and members of parliament from the Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) were present.

"We have been following this process for 10 or more years. Today a decision was made. This decision is unfair, unjust, and against human rights. Today we saw yet again that the policy of impunity continues and based on this policy they took such a decision," said Kadir Karacelik, president of the Mus Bar Association.

According to the Human Rights Association (IHD), an organization advocating for human rights in Turkey, by 1995 about 3,000 houses were either burned or demolished across the Kurdish southeastern regions.