Trial resumes as key witness in Armenian-Turkish soldier death changes testimony

Trial resumes as key witness in Armenian-Turkish soldier death changes testimony

PanARMENIAN.Net - A military court has moved forward a hearing into the suspicious death of soldier Sevag Şahin Balıkçı, a Turkish citizen of Armenian origin, to Jan 30, after a key witness changed his testimony, Hürriyet Daily News reported.

“The witnesses were freed from pressure when they were discharged [from military service]. Perhaps they are doing some soul-searching. It is hard to tell,” said lawyer Cem Halavurt, who represents Balıkçı’s family in court.

The Second Air Force Command Military Tribunal in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır ruled to hold the trial on Jan 30 rather than in March as witness Halil Ekşi altered his testimony regarding the circumstances under which Balıkçı lost his life on Apr. 24, 2011, the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

“While we were drawing barbed wire on the day of the incident, [Pvt.] Kıvanç Ağaoğlu cocked his weapon, pointed it at our friend Sevag and pulled the trigger,” Halil Ekşi told the court in his most recent testimony regarding the incident that occurred at a gendarmerie outpost in the district of Kozluk in the southeastern province of Batman.

Ekşi had confirmed that suspect Ağaoğlu had pointed his weapon at Sevag in his first testimony but then claimed the incident was an accident at a later hearing. Ekşi finally withdrew his initial testimony on Jan. 27, 2011, as Ağaoğlu’s sister and uncle had earlier called on him to testify in the defendant’s favor, he said.

“We are going to file a criminal complaint about Ağaoğlu’s sister and uncle and open a new lawsuit. Kıvanç runs the risk of getting arrested in this trial, and that is what we are going to request,” Halavurt said, adding that the hearing was going to be a critical one.

The witness could change his testimony yet again, Halavurt said, adding that they were determined to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if the matter cannot be resolved in Turkey.

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