After bombing the Umut Bookshop, non-commissioned army officers Ali Kaya and Özcan İldeniz and informant Veyse Ateş were sentenced to 39 years and 5 months in prison. They were acquitted 16 years later during the final hearing that took place on 20 December.
A bomb attack targeted the Umut Bookshop in the Şemdinli district of Hakkari (Colemêrg) in Turkey’s Kurdish majority southeast on 9 November 2005. Suspects after the bomb attack were caught by the people in the vicinity while fleeing.
An investigation was launched into the attack and Ali Özcan, Özcan İldeniz and Veysel Ateş were arrested and sentenced to 39 years and 5 months in prison on charges of “establishing an organisation and attempted murder.” But Ali Kaya and Özcan İldeniz and informant Veyse Ateş were acquitted during the final hearing.
Speaking to MA, Umut Bookshop’s owner Seferi Yılmaz criticised the final decision of the Prosecutor’s Office as biased and following the instructions of the government. “The acquittial decision came as a result of the instructions of the current government, rather than an independent decision of the Van 1st High Criminal Court,” he said.
He gave examples from previous trials he was present at. “Although both the military courts and the high criminal courts have been biased, with all kinds of instructions and orders since 2005, I have not witnessed a trial like today’s trial. As a victim of this case, I followed this case, but I have not seen such a judicial process. The Court Board had to fulfil some legal procedures for its final decision. Unfortunately, it did not fulfil them.”
Yılmaz continued: “We have seen that the Court Board ruled according to the orders, regardless of considering the appointed court. The opinion was issued without examining the record of the trial which consists of 100 folders.”
Bookshop owner Seferi Yılmaz also mentioned the attorneys of the defendants’ statements: “The lawyers of the convicted defendants requested their release by claiming that even the unsolved JITEM murder cases resulted in acquittal (which was also approved by the Supreme Court). This was a message to the Court Committee. This is proof that the judiciary acted accordingly with the state,” he said.
He mentioned the other unsolved murder cases in Turkey and stated that although the defendants were caught red-handed, there was an attempt to cover this up.
“The Susurluk case and other incidents were covered up even though we knew the perpetrators and the victims of unresolved murders. However, the Şemdinli case is not like those cases, because suspects were caught red-handed.
“In the vehicle of the perpetrators, evidence was found including bombs, sketches, lists with the names of people, the sketches of my workplace, Umut Bookshop, and even a cross on my photo. All of this shows that it was a planned action. The court did not take action for two years despite this evidence they found, and it issued decisions that ignored the decisions of previous courts.
Seferi Yılmaz also stated that the prosecutors statements almost blamed him for surviving the attack.
“The prosecutor’s opinion was completely judgmental against me. We have seen that the court was unpleasant because it stated: ‘Even though two bombs exploded in the bookstore, why did he did not die?'”
He concluded: ”Like all the trials in Kurdistan, including the unidentified murders, the JITEM trials, the murder of journalists are all proof that whether they are police officers or civil sergeants, they will be protected by the state.”