Evren Hired Hitman to Hunt Down Armenians

ANKARA (Associated Press)–A former Turkish president allegedly hired a hitman to fight foreign terrorists abroad while security forces allegedly ordered the murders of at least eight journalists–a leading newspaper claimed Sunday.

According to the daily Cumhuriyet–the charges are contained in secret parts of an otherwise highly publicized report on an investigation ordered by the government of Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz into possible links between the underworld and the 1993-1996 administration of Tansu Ciller.

Although the report was leaked to the media last month–portions were kept secret for reasons of state security. It was unclear how Cumhuriyet obtained the details.

During Ciller’s tenure–the report found–security forces spent millions of dollars hiring drug dealers and assassins to kill Kurdish rebel leaders and political opponents–according to the newspaper.

Yilmaz ordered the investigation last year after Abdullah Catli–a wanted criminal–was killed in a 1996 car crash that also left a police chief dead and a deputy from Ciller’s center-right party injured.

Although the report mainly deals with Ciller’s time in power–the new revelations link the state to illegal acts dating back to the early 1980’s.

Former President Kenan Evren–a general who led a 1980 military coup–allegedly personally hired Catli–a right-wing terrorist–to fight Armenian terrorists abroad–Cumhuriyet reported. The paper did not spell out Catli’s purported mission.

Turkey was widely blamed for the 1988 assassination in Greece of Agop Agopian–founder and leader of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia–or ASALA. Ankara had denied the charges.

The Cumhuriyet report also claimed that eight left-wing or pro-Kurdish reporters whose deaths in the early 1990s remained unsolved were killed by state security forces engaged in the war against Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy in the southeast.

Fighting there has left more than 37,000 dead since 1984–while Turkish courts have an additional 14,000 "unsolved" murders on their books.

There was no immediate response from Evren on the accusations. Former interior minister Mehmet Agar–and Sedat Bucak–the deputy riding with Catli–have been indicted.


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