ISTANBUL — A young man of Armenian descent who was killed while serving in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as a conscripted private, which was initially believed to be an accident, is likely a hate crime committed because of the victim’s ethnic background, new testimony from another private indicates, Today’s Zaman repoers.
Pvt. Sevag Sahin Balikçi was shot dead on April 24, 2011 – the date of commemoration of Armenian Genocide victims. The other privates in his unit, stationed in Batman province, and other officers testified that Balikçi was shot accidentally when he was “joking around” with a close friend, Kivanç Agaoglu. However, according to a report published in the Sabah daily on Friday, one of the privates who witnessed the incident changed his testimony, which will likely change the course of the trial of Agaoglu, the shooter.
The revised testimony was given in late December, according to Sabah’s report. Halil Eksi, who served in the military during the same period as Sevag Balikçi, in his revised testimony said, “Kivanç pointed his rifle at Sevag and pulled the trigger. His family had asked me to testify in his favor,” indicating that Agaoglu’s family pressured him into not describing what really happened.
In his latest account, Eksi told the judge hearing his testimony: “I was told by suspect Kivanç and his family, especially his uncle, to testify in his favor. On the day of the incident, we were installing chain-link fencing around the station under orders from our commanders. As we did our work, at some point, Kivanç Agaoglu unlocked his rifle’s safety and directed it at our other friend Sevag Sahin. And he fired the rifle. This way, Sevag Sahin was wounded. I do not know why Kivanç fired at Sevag.”