Istanbul terror attack trial set to begin on May 9

Istanbul terror attack trial set to begin on May 9

The first hearing in the trial for the November 2022 terrorist attack in Istanbul’s Istiklal Street is set to take place on May 9, Turkish authorities announced Monday, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Daily Sabah.

A total of 36 defendants, including Ahlam Albashir, the terrorist who planted the explosives at the scene of the attack, will be standing trial on May 9-11 for the bomb attack that left six dead and 99 injured on November 13, 2022.

According to the indictment released by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the charges against the members of the PKK terrorist group and its Syrian offshoot YPG include “disrupting the integrity of the state and unity of the nation,” “founding or managing an armed terrorist organization,” “being a member of an armed terrorist organization,” “voluntary slaughter of children by bombing,” “voluntary manslaughter by bombing,” “attempted manslaughter by bombing,” “unauthorized possession or exchange of dangerous materials” and “migrant smuggling.”

The prosecution’s investigation found that suspects Albashir and Bilal al-Hacmaus were brought through illegal routes to Türkiye by the YPG after being raised and trained as special intelligence officers.

The two terrorists, placed at different locations in Istanbul, planned and carried out the bomb attack upon instructions from the terrorist group.

Albashir and al-Hacmaus later fled abroad, with al-Hacmaus escaping via Edirne, Türkiye’s northwestern province bordering the European Union.

The prosecution issued a red wanted alert for the fugitives and ordered the arrest of 10 other suspects in coordination with the counterterrorism directorate.

The indictment, which names 123 plaintiffs, seeks three aggravated life sentences for Albashir for the crimes of “disrupting the integrity of the state and unity of the nation,” “voluntary slaughter of children by bombing,” “voluntary manslaughter by bombing,” and up to 15 years in prison for “being a member of an armed terrorist organization.”

The other 99 plaintiffs face combined sevenfold aggravated life sentences and up to 3,009 years in prison for “attempted manslaughter by bombing” and “unauthorized possession or exchange of dangerous materials.”

One of the masterminds of the Istiklal attack, Halil Menci, was killed in a pinpoint National Intelligence Organization (MIT) operation in Qamishli in northern Syria on February 22.

Sources said Menci had been in close contact with fellow PKK/YPG members and was protected by the terrorist group in the region.

Qamishli is one of the places controlled by the terrorist group. Turkish intelligence personnel has been running surveillance for a while on Menci.

In her questioning, Albashir confirmed entering Türkiye illegally from Afrin and receiving intelligence training from the PKK/YPG.

In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the United States and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

After the attack, Türkiye launched aerial operations against the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan implied that a ground operation to clear Syria’s north of terrorist groups threatening Türkiye was also on the table. However, PKK/YPG terrorists have responded to Turkish operations by firing rockets at a Turkish town on the border with Syria, killing two people, including a young boy and a teacher.