Authorities have begun questioning 16 suspects, including 11 soldiers, in connection with the alleged disappearance of devices containing flight information in the wake of a 2009 helicopter crash that killed Great Union Party, or BBP, leader Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu.
Three soldiers were brought to a courthouse in the eastern province of Malatya to testify Friday morning, while another six commissioned soldiers also testified to specially authorized prosecutors Özden Doğan and Şeref Gürkan on Thursday morning, after which they were returned to the Malatya Central Command where the military suspects have been detained.
The interrogation of the 11 commissioned soldiers detained at the Central Command and five other civilians held in custody at the Anti-Terror Department of the Malatya Police Headquarters will continue through Friday, according to Anatolia news agency.
Meanwhile, new footage from the crash site surfaced showing one soldier pulling out what may have been one of the victims’ bodies while speaking to other troops, daily Zaman reported.
“No one can come here, alright? Neither the section commander, nor half the section, no one, just the three of us, OK?” the soldier on the footage reportedly said.
The footage also shows an overturned Sikorsky helicopter from the Land Forces with another chopper behind it that was still in working condition, according to reports.
The helicopter carrying Yazıcıoğlu crashed in a mountainous region in central Turkey while he was traveling from an election rally on March 25, 2009. All passengers were found dead when the wreckage was located 47 hours later, including journalist İsmail Güneş, who called for help before succumbing to injuries he sustained in the accident.
The delay in reaching the wreckage caused uproar in some circles, leading to allegations that Yazıcıoğlu had been deliberately left to die.
Meanwhile, The Turkish Chief of Staff announced Friday that all information and documents required for the investigation has been sent to the Parliamentary Investigation Commission, the State Supervisory Council, as well as the Kahramanmaraş and Malatya Public Prosecutor’s Offices.
“The Turkish Armed Forces, giving importance to the superiority of democracy and law, has therefore decided that a statement on the matter is not necessary as the investigation is still ongoing,” read a statement released on the Chief of Staff’s website.