Top appeals court seeks to decrease sentences in Ankara bombing case

Turkey's top appeals court is seeking to have the sentences of two defendants in the Ankara October 10 Massacre case decreased.

Duvar English

The Court of Cassation's Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has demanded the sentences given to two defendants in the Ankara October 10 Massacre case decreased. 

In a letter of notification prepared with regards to the case, the prosecutor's office said that the 18-year prison sentence that Erman Ekici had previously received was “too much,” whereas Yakup Yıldırım, who had been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, should be acquitted of all charges.

The prosecutor's office further argued that organizations that held the 2015 rally as well as the October 10 Peace and Solidarity Association (10 Ekim-Der) – an organization founded by the victims' families – had no right to participate in the case on the grounds that they had “not sustained a damage from the massacre.”

The prosecutor's office listed the names of rally organizers as follows: The Confederation of Public Employees' Unions (KESK), the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) and the Turkish Medical Association (TTB).

ISIS' twin suicide attack outside Central Ankara railway station killed more than one hundred people and injured more than five hundred on Oct. 10, 2015.

The massacre went down as the deadliest terror attack in modern Turkish history. The victims were largely supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). They had gathered to march for peace ahead of a national election on Nov. 1.

The last hearing with regards to the main case took place on Aug. 3, 2018, with the Ankara 4th Heavy Penal Court sentencing 19 people to jail terms, varying between 7.5 years and aggravated life imprisonment.

The victims' families appealed the 2018 ruling on the grounds that the role of public officials in the massacre had been overlooked. After their appeal was rejected by the appeals court, they have this time taken their case to the Court of Cassation, which is the last instance for reviewing verdicts given by courts of criminal and civil justice.

The October 10 Lawyers Committee - defense attorneys of the victims - said in a statement that the letter of notification they have received from the Court of Cassation's Chief Public Prosecutor's Office “clearly shows the judiciary organs' point of view towards the massacre.”

The lawyers said that the prosecutor's office has two points with regards to the case, the first of which is “Victims should not follow the trial,” and the second is “ISIS members should not be given too much sentence.”

The lawyers asked why the prosecutor's office only preoccupied itself with the participation of victims in the case and the sentences given to the ISIS members, while many issues are waiting to be analyzed and enlightened in the case.

The lawyers said that the prosecutor's office had chosen to avoid their demand to “expand the prosecution for the missing evidence to be collected and for the ones who are really responsible for the massacre to be determined.”

Although some of the suspects responsible for the Ankara attack were in 2015 on the watch list of the police in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, they were not arrested. Some even had arrest warrants on them.

“We have been saying from the beginning that the 10 October Ankara Massacre has occurred because when the massacre was in the form of happening through the path of Gaziantep and Adıyaman to Ankara, those who should have stopped it have not fulfilled their duties,” the lawyers said.