Court documents reveal police knowledge of 2015 Ankara bombing suspect

Nine folders’ worth of documents left at the chief public prosecutor’s terror unit in Turkish capital Ankara by an unidentified person reveal that the country’s police had previous knowledge of the perpetrator responsible for the 2015 terror bombing in Ankara, Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reported on Friday.

Thirty six suspects faced trial, with nine receiving 101 counts of life in prison in 2018 over twin suicide attacks on Oct. 10, 2015, targeting a rally calling for peace following the breakdown of a peace process between Turkey and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in July 2015.

A total of 109 civilians were killed and 500 were injured when two bombers belonging to the Islamic State (ISIS) blew themselves up in the midst of a crowd made up largely of leftists and Kurdish sympathisers, making it the deadliest terror attack in modern Turkish history.

The attack followed another ISIS bombing of a pro-Kurdish political party rally in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır on July 5 of the same year, in which five were killed and over 100 injured.

Questions have long loomed over the case, with the country’s opposition pointing to the involvement of shadowy nationalist "deep state" organisations.

An EU's official intelligence body EUINTCEN report published in 2015 suggested that the bombing may have been committed on the orders of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

The third hearing in the case, which was split to allow for the prosecution of suspects who had been present, and the trial of suspects who had fled at the time, took place on Thursday.

A month before the attack, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had overcome Turkey’s high electoral threshold and won seats in the parliament for the first time, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its super-majority in the parliament.

Newly-emerged documents, which had been hidden from the court during the original trial, reveal that the police directorate in the southeastern Gaziantep province received reports from the province’s Nizip district’s anti-terror units on a suspect planning the attack, but did not process them.

A fertilizer salesman had reported to the Nizip police two men who refused to present their identification as required by law to purchase nitrates, which can be used to make bombs.

Nizip police’s investigation revealed one of the men to be Yakup Şahin, who also attempted to buy the same nitrate fertilizer in Gaziantep and was reported to the police again.

An Islamic State (ISIS) cell procured the fertilizer elsewhere in Gaziantep and hid it in a warehouse until Şahin drove the suicide bombers to Ankara.

“There is blatant neglect. If Yakup Şahin had been caught, this massacre could have been prevented, one of the lawyers of the bombing victims, Murat Kemal Gündüz, was quoted by news site OdaTV as saying during Thursday’s hearing.

Gündüz also said the folders that were said to have been left at the prosecutor’s clerk had in fact been found in one of the cabinets in the prosecutor’s office.

“They hid [the documents] from us, but apparently they hid them from you, too,” Gündüz told the presiding judge.

“These folders are too heavy for one person to carry on their own. This many folders would have been brought in with a shopping cart,” Gündüz said, demanding the folders of documents be entered as evidence in the case.

The court has issued a warrant to investigate how the fertilizer salesmen’s reports were processed by both the public prosecutor in Nizip and the Gaziantep police.