A court in the northwestern province of Sakarya on April 9 ordered the re-arrest of Halis Bayancuk – believed to be ISIS’ most senior operative in Turkey – upon an appeal of prosecutors, just hours after another court ruled to free him, Habertürk reported.
The re-arrest order came after the Sakarya 2nd Heavy Penal Court’s decision to free Bayuncuk, a.k.a. Abu Hanzala, caused an uproar on social media. Several people slammed the court’s decision by saying: “This is unacceptable in a country where journalists, academics and politicians remain under arrest.”
Bayancuk was detained on May 30, 2017 in Istanbul and arrested by a court order in Sakarya on June 17, 2017. On June 28, 2018, the Sakarya 2nd Heavy Penal Court sentenced Bayancuk to 12 years and six months in jail over charges of establishing an armed group, but on Aug. 18, 2019, an Istanbul appeals court overturned the ruling, sending the case file back to the Sakarya court for a re-trial.
During a hearing on April 9, the Sakarya 2nd Heavy Penal Court ordered the release of Bayancuk, but upon an appeal made by prosecutors, the Sakarya 3rd Heavy Penal Court ordered the senior ISIS suspect’s re-arrest.
The issue was also brought to the agenda of the parliament on April 9. Özlem Zengin, the group deputy chairperson of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said that Bayancuk was never released from prison.
“There is a free judiciary system in Turkey. In this judiciary system, the Sakarya 2nd Heavy Penal Court ruled for the release of the person in question, and the prosecutors appealed. The Sakarya 3rd Heavy Penal Court found this appeal as right and the arrest of the person in question continues. He has not been released,” Zengin said.