Istanbul ter­ror at­tack sus­pects ap­pear in court


ISTANBUL: Forty-six sus­pects — one third of them Rus­sian na­tion­als — went on trial Mon­day in con­nec­tion with last year’s triple sui­cide bomb­ing of Istanbul’s main air­port, an at­tack that killed 45 peo­ple.

They are ac­cused of “at­tempt­ing to de­stroy the con­sti­tu­tional or­der” and “mur­der,” state-run Anadolu news agency re­ported.

They are also charged with “mem­ber­ship of an armed ter­ror group” and “form­ing and run­ning a ter­ror group,” said the in­dict­ment. The grave of­fenses mean a po­ten­tial record jail term — up to 3,342 years — if con­victed.

Anadolu said 42 of the ac­cused, who had been un­der ar­rest, ap­peared in court at Silivri, out­side Istanbul, in a hear­ing due to last four days. The other four sus­pects re­main at large.

Six­teen of the ac­cused are Rus­sian na­tion­als and the oth­ers are Chechen, Tu­nisian, Egyp­tian, Al­ge­rian, Syr­ian and Turk­ish.

Those killed in the sui­cide bomb­ings at Ataturk Air­port on June 28, 2016, in­cluded 19 for­eign­ers and it was one of the worst at­tacks to rock Turkey’s big­gest city that year.

No group has claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack but Turkey says Daesh was be­hind the air­port blasts. The court in­dict­ment also said Daesh “tar­geted the Turk­ish repub­lic.”

Two of the three as­sailants in the mas­sacre were iden­ti­fied as Rakim Bul­garov and Vadim Os­manov, ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers which did not iden­tify the third at­tacker.

They are be­lieved to be from Rus­sia, Uzbek­istan and Kyr­gyzs­tan, and en­tered Turkey from Syria’s Raqqa, Daesh’s then de-facto cap­i­tal, a month be­fore the air­port atroc­i­ties.

Turk­ish me­dia had pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied the man who or­ga­nized the at­tack as Akhmed Chatayev, the Chechen leader of a Daesh cell in Istanbul who re­port­edly found ac­com­mo­da­tion for the bombers.

Turk­ish po­lice of­fi­cers stand guard near the ex­plo­sion site at Ataturk Air­port in Istanbul in a file photo. (AFP)

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