Turkish army to investigate Olgac’s confession

‘He was an actor, not a fighter’ said Turkish professor

THE TURKISH army yesterday launched an investigation into the confession of a Turkish actor who said he had shot and killed an unarmed Greek Cypriot prisoner of war in 1974.

Brigadier General Metin Gurak made the announcement at his weekly news conference. He said the army planned to investigate the issue of Attila Olgac’s confession thoroughly.

The investigation follows the probe launched by the Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul earlier this week. If found guilty Turkey’s Justice Ministry will send Olgac’s case to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

Olgac told a live breakfast show he had shot and killed a 19-year-old POW on his commanding officer’s orders after the teen refused to talk, and spat in Olgac’s face. He said he killed nine other Greek Cypriots in later skirmishes. Twenty-four hours later he retracted his story claiming he’d made the whole thing up.

Despite the retraction, Olgac’s confession has made headlines in Cyprus and in Turkey since last week.

Speaking on Turkish television this week, a Turkish Professor said Attila Olgac had never even fired a shot during his posting to Cyprus in 1974.

Yalc?n Kucuk said he had met Olgac in Cyprus and that the pair had become friends.

“He was an actor not a fighter. After a little while we sent him back to Turkey. They sent me to carry out cleansing operations,” he said.

Kucuk was speaking on weekly television programme ‘32 Gun’ following his recent release after he was detained in connection with the formation of an illegal organisation, Ergenekon, to provoke a series of events that would pave the way for a military coup.

Kucuk said he had served in Cyprus during the same period as Olgac. He also said he had participated in the Tymbou airport operation.

Irrespective of the retraction and reported corroboration from some Turkish sources, the Cyprus government said it will file recourse with the European Court of Human Rights and put the matter before the Council of Europe’s Permanent Members.

The issue was also discussed by the Committee of Missing Person at its weekly meeting. The CMP’s third member, Christophe Girod said: “We discussed the issue of the statements made in the media. The CMP relies on the good will of people who are willing to talk to us so that we can locate burial grounds.”

He said the Committee, which is responsible for the location and identification of missing persons, would monitor developments on the issue.

Olgac’s statement did not escape discussion in the Greek parliament. In fact an argument erupted between Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni and opposition parties over the Greek government’s handling of the issue. Bakoyianni said the Greek government would co-operate with Cyprus to utilise the information and it was handling it with caution and sensitivity. Opposition deputies accused the government of being too lenient and mild in its approach.

Commenting on the issue yesterday, AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said Olgac’s confession simply reaffirmed what the Greek Cypriot side had always known regarding events during the 1974 invasion.

AKEL’s youth organisation EDON said the confession had charged sentiments among Greek Cypriots, particularly among the relatives of the missing, while the youth organisation of the Turkish Republican Party said it was aware of the realities of the island and was unsurprised by Olgac’s confession.

Ironically figures presented by the European Court of Human Rights on Thursday do little to paint Turkey in a good light.

According to the ECHR’s annual table of violations per country for 2008, Turkey was the country that gave rise to the greatest number of judgments (257) in which at least one violation of the Convention was found. The countries that followed were Russia (233), Romania (189), Poland (129) and Ukraine (110).