ISTANBUL - Great Union Party members believe that the suspicious helicopter crash that killed six people, including Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu, the party’s leader, should be investigated with an eye on assassination or sabotage. Yazıcıoğlu’s plans to meet with liberal intellectuals increase the intrigue

Conspiracy theories have swelled over the helicopter crash that killed six people including Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu, the leader of the conservative Great Union Party, or BBP, after plans for an exclusive meeting with liberal intellectuals were revealed.

Conservative-right and nationalist party leader Yazıcıoğlu’s step to exchange ideas with Turkey’s liberal intellectuals is an additional detail that adds suspicion to the crash.

Kezban Hatemi, a lawyer, said the BBP asked her and intellectual Baskın Oran to bring intellectuals together to exchange ideas at a BBP meeting. "They explained the aim of this meeting would be to understand and enlighten each other," Hatemi told Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. The meeting was scheduled to take place in May, just two months after the crash.

After his arrest, Yasin Hayal, a suspect in the murder of journalist Hrant Dink, a Turkish citizen of Armenian origin, said he was a follower of the BBP. Yazıcıoğlu condemned the declaration at the time.

After Yazıoğlu’s call, Hatemi, also a lawyer for the Dink family, said she called Orhan Dink, brother of Hrant Dink, and asked whether she should attend Yazıcıoğlu’s meeting. "Orhan Dink told me that I can attend it since they are open to any kind of dialogue and cooperation," Hatemi said. Hrant Dink was shot dead on Jan. 19, 2007, by Ogün Samast, who was 18 years old at the time.

Oral Çalışlar, a daily Radikal columnist, said he was also invited to the BBP’s meeting. Çalışlar said Yazıcıoğlu would probably have expressed his ideas about democracy, freedom, assassinations and the Ergenekon case.

The timing of the crash becomes more striking when Yazıcıoğlu’s planned meeting with intellectuals is taken into account with the connection of the Ergenekon case. Rumors claim Yazıcıoğlu was one of the secret witnesses providing information about ties in the controversial Ergenekon case. BBP Vice President Ahmet Şanverdi dismissed the claims that Yazıcıoğlu has given any files or information to the prosecutors of the Ergenekon probe, daily Vatan reported yesterday. Mehmet Altan, a daily Star columnist, who was one of the intellectuals invited to the BBP’s meeting in indirect ways, said the accident should be investigated more strictly after the recent news. "When I look at the whole picture now, I believe we have to re-read the whole incident, including Ergenekon incidents and ties. Personally, I don’t have any concrete information, but I feel that this is a suspicious accident and it needs more investigation," Altan told the Daily News.

The Ergenekon case started after the discovery of 27 hand grenades June 12, 2007, in a shanty house in Istanbul's Ümraniye district.

Another intriguing detail is that Yazıcıoğlu survived four traffic accidents between May 2007 and June 2008. According to BBP officials, the helicopter accident was not just an accident. Party members have called experts from the United States and Germany to investigate the evidence at the crash scene.