Gag order on case file in YazIcIoIlu’s death lifted

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- The automatic lifting of a gag order on an investigation into a 2009 helicopter crash that resulted in the death of former Grand Unity Party (BBP) leader Muhsin YazIcIoIlu and five others has fueled expectations of new revelations about the incident.

A government-sponsored bill abolishing Turkey’s specially authorized courts (ÖYMs), which heard terrorism and organized crime trials, resulted in the lifting of a gag order on the case file on the incident, and it will now be possible for experts to make a thorough analysis of the radar recordings and issue a detailed report.

BBP Deputy Chairman Selami Ekici, who is also a lawyer representing the YazIcIoIlu family, told Al-Jazeera that expert analysis of the radar recordings done in February 2013 — which dealt with the flight plan and flight path of the helicopter in 2009 — would be available to the public now that the gag order has been removed.

Ekici said that experts will now be able to write a comprehensive report on the incident, adding, “The process after the crash was an attempt to cover up evidence of the assassination. Five experts spent a week examining the records in Erzurum’s Dumlu Radar Base, the General Staff command center and the Air Forces Command’s communication unit.”

At the time of the crash, Ekici claimed that there was a 4 minute, 37 second gap in the General Staff’s radar recording of the incident due to a technical failure. The General Staff denied the claims and said that the radar recordings had been delivered to the relevant authorities. It also said that every means had been made available to the experts investigating the incident.

“The reversal of the gag order on the file, which was sent to KahramanmaraI province, is a considerable development. I just received a 120-page folder. Now the new prosecutor, Habib Korkmaz, will conduct an investigation and look at the dossier. I think that it might take six months for the prosecutor to examine the file and consider our requests,” Ekici added.

“The crash was not an unfortunate accident”

Ekici also pointed out that a number of incidents that are hard to explain happened on the day of the crash, adding that another mystery surrounds Ihlas news agency reporter Ismail GuneI, who was on the helicopter and called an emergency hotline after the crash.

“GuneI called the 112 emergency hotline after the crash. According to the autopsy reports, his chin, in addition to his rib cage and leg bones, was fractured. However, he speaks without any difficulty in the 112 hotline call. He is also heard saying that he was stuck in the helicopter when he called the emergency line, but his body was found about 500 to 600 meters away from the crash site. We learned two years after the autopsy that his chin had been fractured. However, if this information had been revealed at the time of the crash, the possibility of assassination would have been taken into account and the evidence would not have been covered up,” Ekici said.

There has also been some evidence suggesting that the helicopter crash site was reached by soldiers on the day of the incident. Officials have been silent on this point.

“YazIcIoIlu initially survived the crash”

According to Ekici, local villagers insisted that they had seen footage showing that YazIcIoIlu was alive.
“These claims are not limited to witnesses’ statements. Emrullah Önalan, head of the BBP’s Erzurum branch, stated that he saw 10-15 seconds of footage showing YazIcIoIlu praying. We wanted to obtain the footage but could not get any results,” Ekici stressed.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)