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Turkey launches probe into 1996 killing after gang leader’s claims

Published: Updated:

An Istanbul prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday it launched an investigation into the murder of a Turkish Cypriot journalist 25 years ago, after a mob leader said last month the killing was ordered by a former Turkish minister.

Convicted gang leader Sedat Peker’s uncorroborated allegations on YouTube of extrajudicial killings in the 1990s have placed the unsolved murders of hundreds of people during that decade back on the agenda in Turkey.

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In a video viewed by 17 million Turks, Peker said he tasked his brother to kill journalist Kutlu Adali in 1996 upon the orders of a former minister.

Peker said his brother Atilla was not able to carry out the killing, although Adali was shot dead shortly afterwards in July 1996.

Atilla Peker was briefly detained nine days ago, a few hours after his brother’s video was released.

Istanbul Anadolu prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday that it had launched a new investigation into Adali’s murder based on an application for the probe by Atilla Peker that “included various claims.”

It said efforts were being made to obtain information and documents from Turkish Cypriot judicial authorities regarding the killing, in addition to collecting potential evidence in Turkey.

It said a detailed statement would be taken from Atilla Peker.

An initial investigation at the time of Adali’s murder did not uncover who was responsible. The European Court of Human Rights fined Turkey in 2005 for a failure to carry out an “adequate and effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing.”

Sedat Peker, 49, rose to prominence in the 1990s as a gangland figure and was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2007 for crimes including forming and leading a criminal gang.

He has said he is now in Dubai, although Reuters has not been able to verify his whereabouts. The eight videos he has so far uploaded have been viewed more than 70 million times in total.

Peker’s accusations against current and former government officials also include rape, drug trafficking and covert arms deliveries.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, one of the people Peker has targeted so far, have strongly rejected the accusations. Soylu said the accusations were a plot against the country.

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