Musa Anter

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Anter, a prominent Kurdish writer who contributed columns to the daily Özgür Gündem and the weekly Yeni Ülke, was shot and killed in Diyarbakır. Lured from his hotel by a telephone caller who asked him to help settle a property dispute, Anter and a friend set off in a taxi with an unknown man, described as between 25 and 30 years old. When they began to suspect that a trap was being set, they demanded to get out of the taxi. The man accompanying them also got out and, having walked in front of them, began shooting at them with a gun.

Anter was struck by four bullets and died soon afterward. The friend, hit by two bullets, was seriously injured. Amnesty International reported that a 14-shot 9 mm gun was used in the attack, which the group says occurred on the outskirts of the city near a police station and a manned traffic control point. Anter, who did not live in Diyarbakır, was visiting the city to sign books during a cultural festival. A previously unknown group, Boz-Ok, claimed responsibility for the killing, but editors at Yeni Ülke and Özgür Gündem discounted the claim, blaming the state and counterguerrillas.

Abdülkadir Aygan, a former militia member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who became a government informant in the 1980s and then acted as a part of the alleged extrajudicial government kill squad known as JİTEM between 1990 and 2000, according to his own account, publicly confessed to being involved in plans for Anter’s murder in a 2004 interview he gave to Özgür Gündem. Aygan said he was part of the JİTEM crew ordered to assassinate Anter in 1992 and his role was to help the shooter escape, but he did not do so since the gunman escaped via an alternative, unplanned route.

On December 19, 2006, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of the Anter family in their case against Turkey, which was found at fault for not protecting the journalist’s life and not running an “effective investigation” that would provide “effective remedy.” The state was ordered to compensate the family 28,500 euros (US$28,500), according to reports and a court press release.                                   

In 2009, 17 years after the murder, Turkish prosecutors reopened the case following Aygan’s 2004 interview in which he confessed to being involved in Anter’s killing, reports said. In 2010, the case was merged with two other trials involving several alleged JİTEM members, including Aygan, as defendants. The merged trial started to be known as the “main JİTEM trial” (as there were others), according to reports. Turkey’s military confirmed the unofficial existence of the JİTEM as a temporary intelligence unit from 1988 to 1990 that was made official before being disbanded in 2001, a trial memo said. 

Hamit Yıldırım, whom Aygan accused of being the gunman, was arrested in Turkey in 2012 but released in 2017, when the legal limit for a person to be held without conviction was reached.

The trial was transferred from Diyarbakır to Ankara in 2015 for security reasons, reports said.

Anter’s murder case, or the “main JİTEM trial,” was dropped by the sixth Ankara Court of Serious Crimes on September 21, 2022, due to the statute of limitations, reports said. “There was no effective investigation,” Dicle Anter, Musa’s son, said. “Abdülkadir Aygan, who was a live witness to the murder, was not even heard once (in the court)” after the case was dropped, according to reports.