Turkey’s Supreme Court May 16 overturned a 40-year prison term imposed on two paramilitary officers for overseeing the bombing of a bookstore in the eastern town of Semdinli two years ago. The blast, which killed one person, sparked angry protests across Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast. The Supreme Court overturned the sentences of 39 years and five months meted out to each of the two non-commissioned officers, Ali Kaya and Ozcan Ildeniz, saying there had been shortcomings in the investigation and recommending their case be re-examined by a local military court. The case shined a spotlight on Turkey’s so-called “deep state,” code for elements in the security forces and bureaucracy who act above the law to protect national interests.
Last year a public prosecutor was fired after he accused the head of Turkey’s military General Staff, Yasar Buyukanit, of organizing an illegal group to carry out the bombing. Buyukanit was head of Turkey’s land forces at the time of the blast. The armed forces denied all the accusations. Buyukanit recently described the Semdinli affair as a “legal disaster.” The EU has expressed concern over the sacking of the official and has demanded a full and transparent investigation. (Reuters, May 16)