A military prosecutor demanded up to two years, six months for a suspect who he accused of “accidentally” shooting Sevag Şahin Balıkçı during his military service as a private, while the family and lawyers suspect Balıkçı being an ethnic Armenian might have been the motive for the fatal shooting, Today’s Zaman reported.
Pvt. Balıkçı was killed on April 24, 2011, the date of commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Officers and other privates in his unit, which is stationed in Batman province, testified that Balıkçı was shot accidentally while “joking around” with a close friend, Kıvanç Ağaoğlu, who allegedly fired the lethal shot. They were serving at the Kozluk Gümüşgörü Gendarmerie Station at the time of the alleged murder. However, a witness changed his testimony during the trial.
During a hearing at Diyarbakır Second Air Forces Command Military Court on Feb. 28, the prosecutor demanded two to six years for Ağaoğlu and from two years, six months to two years for noncommissioned officer Sadrettin Ersöz.
Ağaoğlu, who has been released on bail, attended the hearing. Balıkçı’s parents Garabet and Ani Balıkçı, his sister Lerna Özder and the family lawyers were also present. The other suspect, Ersöz, also attended the trial.
Hakan Tekkanat, a witness who also was serving in the military at the time of the murder, had earlier testified that Ersöz gathered all the privates in the unit after the shooting and talked to them about the shooting, saying Ağaoğlu was innocent and the shooting was an accident. Ersöz denied the allegations that he tried to manipulate the soldiers in any way, but he admits that he gathered the unit. “My purpose was not to manipulate the testimony of the other soldier or protect Ağaoğlu. I was just carrying out orders. I convened the unit to find out information about the incident.”
The Balıkçı family on Thursday said they wanted the truth to come out. “Everything is left to people’s conscience. We want to find out how our son died. Sevag will not come back, but we want the truth to come out. We want to know the truth,” Garabet Balıkçı said.
Cem Halavurt, a lawyer representing the Balıkçı family, said documents regarding the incident and testimony from witnesses presented serious contradictions. “The witnesses are being manipulated. This is why the incident can’t be fully understood. There is serious negligence here, and apart from Sadrettin E., all the commanders in charge of the station have a responsibility.” Halavurt also petitioned the court to expand the investigation, a request that was turned down by the court.
After the military prosecutor presented his statement on the case, the court was adjourned until May 26.