An Ankara court dropped a high-profile case over the deadly 1993 torching of a Sivas hotel yesterday, ruling that the charges against the suspects exceeded the statute of limitations.
Thousands of people protested the ruling outside the court, and clashes broke out between the police and demonstrators, as lawyers for the families of the victims said they would appeal the ruling.
Commenting on the dropped case, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “Let it be for the best.”
Thirty-three intellectuals and two hotel employees perished during an Alevite cultural festival on July 2, 1993, when an Islamist mob torched the Madimak Hotel in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas. The mob was agitated mainly by the presence of popular atheist writer Aziz Nesin, who was then translating Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses.” Two of the arsonists also died.
CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu called the ruling a “disgrace” and said the suspects had gone on to live their lives for years without being caught.
“The [ruling] Justice and Development Party [AKP] is responsible for this. For the most part, it was AKP deputies who worked as lawyers for the perpetrators. They are now in Parliament. I’m sure that the prime minister is saying ‘good, we were saved by the statue of limitations,’” Kilicdaroglu said at his party’s parliamentary group meeting yesterday.
He added: “I am sure Prime Minister Erdogan is happy about it, I am sure he is relieved by the court ruling. This is an affront to humanity, and this is where the polarization of society starts.”
On Monday, deputy chairman Gürsel Tekin pressed the government further on the Madimak Hotel ruling:
“AKP is shedding alligator tears on Sivas(Madimak Hotel case) and detained journalists. Nobody in the media is asking Bulent Arinc (AKP deputy chairman) why he is beating his chest for the Madimak ruling, when CHP offered to amend Articles 66 and 67 of the Turkish Penal Code (citing exemptions to the Statute of Limitations)? If you want to correct this disgrace, we showed you the easy way”.