The fact that Attila Olgac had since retracted his shocking statement must also be examined, said Petros Clerides. Olgac retracted his initial statement, saying he confused killing people in real life with a script he was working on for a war film.
The AG said that even if the confession proved to be a fabrication it could not go unpunished as it had been witnessed by and had distressed so many people in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey.
“If we assume, and I don’t believe it, that he confused reality with a script, then this person still can’t go unpunished after all the upset he’s caused,” Clerides said.
The AG said an independent body had to investigate whether the confession was fact or fiction.
“If, as it is very likely, he was telling the truth, then it is truly shocking testimony that can be used in various ways,” he said.
He said the issue needed serious consideration by the Committee for Missing Persons or another UN recommended body.
“Or a special committee could be appointed to investigate to get the truth,” he said.
Clerides also rubbished Olgac’s excuse that he had confused the killings with a war film. The actor’s initial confession was made on a Turkish talk show on Thursday morning. His retraction came just over 24 hours later following a huge public and political outcry.
“In my opinion his excuse is nonsense. I don’t see how after 35 years someone can confuse reality with imagination,” said Clerides.
However it was still premature to be talking about issuing international arrest warrants, he said. Past efforts to do this had already failed on a practical level and therefore the issue had to be thoroughly and methodically examined at a “very high government level” for there to be any positive outcome.
Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said the issue was not that prisoners had been murdered but how the testimony could be used to support evidence that Turkey had violated Geneva Convention treaties during 1974 and to pressurise her into complying with European Court of Human Rights rulings to fully co-operate in shedding light on the issue of the missing.
“This is something Turkey has not done so far,” said Stefanou.
The story was also given extensive media coverage in Turkey, with legal experts warning the actor could be charged with war crimes and face arrest outside Turkey.
Greece and Cyprus might use the information to pressurize Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights to co-operate on the issue of the missing, the papers said, and according to Milliyet the revelation might also serve to harm Turkish Cypriots.
Only an article in Hurriyet gave some weight to Olgac’s retraction. The paper quoted the former general manager of the Turkish Cypriot state theater who said he had known Olgac in 1974 and that none of what he’d confessed to on live television was true. According to him, the actor had been terrified of warfare and his family had contacted the theater manager asking for his intervention with the Turkish army in Cyprus, which he did. He said Olgac was transferred to the kitchens as a cook and was never even given a gun. In August 1974 the actor was sent to Cyprus for a period of 20 days and then sent home, he claimed.
On Thursday Olgac confessed to shooting an unarmed, handcuffed 19-year-old POW in the forehead after his Turkish army commander ordered the killing. The teenager had apparently refused to answer the commander’s questions and had spat in Olgac’s face. His murder was his punishment. Olgac said he had also killed nine other Greek Cypriots during post-war skirmishes between both sides.
By Alexia Saoulli, Cyprus Mail, January 25, 2009