Turkey should investigate new allegations regarding the unsolved murders of two prominent investigative journalists, Uğur Mumcu and Kutlu Adalı, in Turkey and Northern Cyprus in the 1990s, the International Press Institute (IPI) said today.

New and serious claims about the involvement of the Turkish government and military officials in the two murders were recently raised by a well-known mafia figure, Sedat Peker. The claims were made as part of a series of videos published in recent weeks in which Peker alleges a range of serious crimes committed by powerful figures in Turkey.

In the seventh video released on May 23, Peker accused former Interior Minister Mehmet Ağar, who was previously sentenced to five years in prison for working with organized crime figures and “managing a criminal organization” in the 1990s, of being involved with the Uğur Mumcu killing in 1993.

So far, no official statement has been made or investigations opened following the claims.

Peker similarly accused Ağar of organizing Adalı’s killing in 1996. Adalı, who was working for the Yeni Düzen (New Order) newspaper in Northern Cyprus at the time of his killing, was writing about the smuggling of historical artifacts and the alleged involvement of the Directorate of Civil Defense Organization in Northern Cyprus. Peker stated that, in a meeting with Ağar in an Ankara hotel, his brother Atilla Peker was assigned to carry out the shooting. The murder was ultimately carried out by someone else, he said.

In the wake of the video, Atilla Peker was detained on May 23, later charged with “carrying unlicensed weapons” and then released.

Atilla Peker stated that his voluntary statements on the Adalı killing while in police detention were not taken under record, but that a letter in which he confessed being assigned to the shooting and travelling to Cyprus with another military official Korkut Eken was sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in southwestern province of Fethiye. The letter detailed events and concrete evidence regarding Attila Peker and Eken’s role in Adalı’s killing. In the letter, Attila Peker also said that a few months after his own assignment to murder Adalı was not carried out, Eken told him in their next meeting that “they handled the Cyprus issue”.

“While the serious allegations made by Sedat Peker remain unconfirmed, the situation of impunity in the murders of Uğur Mumcu and Kutlu Adalı demands that any such claims be fully assessed, regardless of their source”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “We, therefore, call on the Turkish authorities to open an investigation into these new claims and pursue all possible leads toward solving these crimes and holding those responsible to account. IPI will continue to follow this situation closely, and we offer our solidarity to the families of Uğur Mumcu and Kutlu Adalı as they continue the fight for justice.”

In 2005, the European Court of Human Rights found that Turkey violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the right to life for Turkey’s “failure to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing” of Adalı. Despite this ruling, both cases remained unsolved.

IPI Turkey National Committee Chair Kadri Gürsel said:

“There is enough concrete evidence to believe that mafia boss Sedat Peker had been protected by the current administration between the years 2014 and 2020. The allegations regarding the critical and independent journalist Kutlu Adalı’s killing in Cyprus in 1996 must also be investigated at utmost severity. In addition, the revelations related to the mob attacks on Hürriyet newspaper in 2015 must be investigated and political ties must be disclosed. It is impossible for Turkey to have a respectful place in the world if it fails to prevent and investigate crimes against journalists with shady links to the state.”

In a video on May 20, Peker also confessed that he had organized a mob attack on the newspaper Hürriyet in September 2015 after receiving a request from a previous AKP MP, though he did not reveal the MP’s name. Peker also suggested that these attacks were part of an effort to intimidate Hürriyet’s former owner, Doğan Media, into selling the newspaper to the pro-government Demirören Media Group, which ultimately took place in 2018. Demirören Media Group has so far not commented on the allegations. Further claims in the video were raised about the organization of an assault on the journalist Ahmet Hakan.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle Turkish, the current editor-in-chief of Yeni Düzen, Cenk Mutluyakalı, said that there was no thorough investigation into the murder of Kutlu Adalı at the time, and alleged that the police officer assigned to investigate the case did not even take fingerprints from Adalı’s house. Mutluyakalı also said that that police officer is now the head of the Police Department in Northern Cyprus.

As a result of the new claims, political parties in Northern Cyprus have submitted a request for a parliamentary investigation which was unanimously accepted on May 27. Current Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who is also the target of a number of Peker’s accusations, said on May 24 that he gave instructions for an investigation into the allegations for Adalı killing to be opened.

On May 26, a parliamentary motion calling for an investigation into Peker’s allegations was rejected by the majority votes of ruling AKP party and its allied MHP party.