Bookstore bombing suspects released by Turkish court

The Van 1st High Criminal Court during a retrial ruled for the release of noncommissioned officers Özcan İldeniz and Ali Kaya and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) informant Veysel Ateş, who were convicted of forming a criminal organization after an explosion at the Umut Bookstore on Nov. 9, 2005 in southeastern Hakkari province, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Wednesday.

All three suspects were released under judicial supervision.

A bomb attack targeted the Umut Bookstore in Şemdinli on Nov. 9, 2005. The explosion killed one person and injured five. The identity cards of suspects Kaya and İldeniz, three Kalashnikov rifles, explosive materials and parts of military and police uniforms were found in a car near the bookstore, according to Gazete Duvar.

A map with the bombed bookstore marked with a red cross was also found in the car. The owner of the bookstore, Seferi Yılmaz, was a former PKK member who had done time in prison.

The bombing in Şemdinli had raised questions over whether Turkey had succeeded in purging rogue elements from the security forces. Members of the forces are accused of summary executions, extortion, kidnappings and drug-smuggling in the mainly Kurdish southeast in the 1990s, the peak years of PKK attacks there.

A prosecutor also argued that then-Turkish Land Forces Commander General Yaşar Büyükanıt attempted to influence the justice when he said after the blast in Şemdinli that he knew one of the suspects as “a good guy.” The prosecutor had demanded that military prosecutors launch a probe into the general.

An indictment had also demanded life terms for the two soldiers and the Kurdish informer for the blast, which it describes as a provocative act to stir unrest in the southeast, discredit the government and undermine Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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