The lawyer representing the family of slain Kurdish writer Musa Anter has warned that the case may end up being dropped in 18 months due to the statute of limitations, Mezopotamya news agency reported.
A statute of limitations, known in civil law systems as a prescriptive period, is a law passed by a legislative body to set the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. When a statute of limitations expires in a criminal case, the courts no longer have jurisdiction.
Anter, 74, was killed in an armed attack on Sept. 20, 1992 in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, in one of the darkest unsolved murders in Turkey's history. He had published four books, was a columnist for Özgur Gündem, Yeni Ülke, and the Kurdish newspaper, Welat.
The attack is believed to have been organized by a group inside the Gendarmerie Intelligence Organization (JİTEM), which is responsible for thousands of extrajudicial killings in the 1990s.
Facts about the murder came to light due to the confession of informant Abdulkadir Aygan, an ex-JİTEM member, who pointed Hamit Yıldırım as one of the perpetrators. According to testimonies of Aygan, the murder was planned by the leading cadre of JİTEM.
Aygan resigned from JİTEM in 2001 and fled to Sweden, where he was granted asylum with his family. He has since shared his knowledge of 58 murders with the Turkish prosecution, including those of Anter, Kurdish politician Vedat Aydın and journalist Uğur Mumcu.
In June 2012, twenty years after Anter's murder, Yıldırım was taken into custody. If there had been no new developments in the case, all perpetrators would have benefited from the statute of limitations. But the arrest of Yıldırım resumed the trial, and Anter’s murder case was extended for another 10 years. Yıldırım was released five years later under judicial control.
During the 27th hearing of the murder case on Jan. 21, lawyer Selim Okçuoğlu said that Aygan's testimony had not been still taken.
“The Justice Ministry has not been cooperating with the court. Therefore suspect Aygan's testimony cannot be taken, which caused the prosecution process to extend. The case faces a threat of being dropped due to a statute of limitations,” Okçuoğlu warned.
The Ankara 6th Heavy Penal Court ruled that former Ankara chief of police Zeki Çatalkaya be listened to as a witness and kept the judicial control order of Yıldırım in place.
The trial has been postponed to April 7.