Armenian soldier’s murder witness admits altering statement under duress

An eyewitness to the murder of a soldier of Armenian origin who was killed while performing his military service in 2011 has admitted that he altered his testimony under pressure from a relative of the suspected murderer, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Eyewitness Halil Ekşi had first said that suspected murderer Kıvanç Ağaoğlu shot soldier Sevag Şahin Balıkçı, but later claimed not to know how Balıkçı was killed. He now says that he was forced to change his witness testimony after being threatened by Ağaoğlu’s relative, Bülent Kaya.

Armenian-Turkish soldier Balıkçı was shot in a gendarmerie station in Batman province by another soldier, Kıvanç Ağaoğlu, who was stationed at the same post and also performing his military service.

Ekşi had confirmed that suspect Ağaoğlu had pointed his weapon at Sevag in his first testimony, but then claimed the incident was just an accident at a later hearing.

While the trial of suspect Kıvanç Ağaoğlu is continuing on charges of murder, Ekşi and Kaya are now also facing lawsuits on charges of “false statements” and “instigation of false statements” respectively.

Ekşi admitted providing testimony in the first hearing of the lawsuit that took place on Dec. 19.

He said Kaya called him repeatedly after he completed his military service and returned to the Aegean province of Aydın, where he resides, asking him to change his statement.

“Later on this man [Kaya] came to Aydın. He talked to someone on the phone and wrote down the parts of my testimony that needed to be changed. After being pressured into doing so, we rearranged the respective parts of my testimony,” Ekşi said.

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