Gendarmerie sends missing ’Back to Life’ operation plan to court

YAKUP ÇET?N
?STANBUL


The case, already laden with controversy, concerns the Hayata Dönü? (Back to Life) operation, which left 12 inmates dead and 29 others seriously injured at ?stanbul’s Bayrampa?a Prison in 2000.
The Gendarmerie General Command has found a plan used during a deadly prison riot operation in its archives and has sent it to the court hearing the case against the operation. Last month the General Staff said the plan had been lost.The case, already laden with controversy, concerns the Hayata Dönü? (Back to Life) operation, which left 12 inmates dead and 29 others seriously injured at ?stanbul’s Bayrampa?a Prison in 2000.
On the first day of the trial — Nov. 23, 2010 — against 39 privates, who stand accused of exceeding their authority and using excessive force during the prison riot, the Bak?rköy 13th High Criminal Court requested the Bayrampa?a Prison Special Intervention Action Plan from the General Staff. However, in a response sent to the court early last month, the General Staff said the plan was missing and could not be found in the archives of the Gendarmerie General Command, which led the operation.

After widespread media coverage of the General Staff’s response, the Gendarmerie General Command reportedly intensified its efforts and found the plan, which was recently sent to the court. The Gendarmerie General Command said in its latest response to the court that the document was found during the classification of archival documents. The statement, bearing the signature of Lt. Col. Selahattin Acara, said the document was found to have been archived in the wrong place. The operation, which was announced to the public as the Hayata Dönü? operation, is codenamed Tufan (Deluge) in the plan.

The document refers to the inmates in the prison as “terrorists.” According to the plan, nearly 70 weapons and hand grenades were being hidden in the women’s ward by the inmates. The plan says the operation “may end with fatalities.” The plan also revealed that gas bombs, which can be fatal when used in excess, were also ordered to be “frequently used if the inmates resist the security forces.” Although the plan ordered that the operation be recorded, the Gendarmerie General Command said the records of the operation are missing. The investigation into the deadly riot was completed in May of last year, with the Bak?rköy 12th High Criminal Court accepting the indictment into the operation. The prosecution demands 41 consecutive life sentences for the 39 men on charges of murder with intent and attempted murder. The defendants, who were doing their compulsory military service at the time, were between 20 and 22 years of age. The indictment notes that the operation lasted 16 hours, during which some of the inmates died due to long-range shots, internal hemorrhaging, being burned alive by a fire that erupted during the events and smoke inhalation.

The co-plaintiffs protest that there is not a single high-ranking officer among the defendants. The privates say they were simply acting on orders. In fact, Article 24 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) states that those acting on orders from their superiors cannot be held responsible for the consequences of those actions.

Co-plaintiffs now hopeful

The second trial in the case was held yesterday at the Bak?rköy 13th High Criminal Court. Oya Asan, one of the co-plaintiffs in the case, said the emergence of the plan raised their hopes. “The emergence of the plan has boosted our hopes for the trial of the actual perpetrators of the incident. The plan mentions who was employed where during the operation. The court should launch judicial processes against those people as well bearing the plan in mind,” she said.

According to the recently emerged plan, the commander who led the operation was Gendarmerie Regional Commander Brig. Gen. Engin Ho?. Col. Burhan Ergin and Maj. Hüseyin Bak?r also took active roles in the operation. In addition, lieutenants Bayram Özer, Murat Bekta?, ?dris Tahta, Ayhan Ayar and Ahmet Yanaral were among the team that carried out the operation. Co-plaintiffs will reportedly file criminal complaints against these individuals as well.


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