Turkish court postpones final hearing for Ankara Massacre case

The Ankara Heavy Penal Court on June 26 postponed the verdict for Turkey's deadliest terror attack, the Ankara Train Station Massacre that claimed 103 lives, to July 1 due to the absence of the defendants’ lawyers. Victims' families, survivors, and union representatives were present for the hearing.

Ceren Bayar / Gazete Duvar 

The 4th Ankara Heavy Penal Court on June 26 held what was supposed to be the final hearing of the Ankara Train Station Massacre, but postponed the verdict to 1 July due to the defendant's lawyers’ absence.

The suicide bomb attack struck on October 10, 2015, during the “Labour, Peace and Democracy" rally held at the Ankara Train Station Square, becoming the deadliest terror attack in Turkey with 103 casualties and over 500 injured. 

The attack was attributed to ISIS, however, opposition figures have maintained the neglect of the Turkish Intelligence Agency and security forces were decisive in the magnitude of the massacre. 

Numerous parliament members, professional organizations, and civil society groups attended the hearing, including the families of those who died in the Suruç Massacre.

In the case, 10 out of 26 defendants were to be sentenced. Sixteen individuals, believed to be ISIS members, remained at large. The verdict for Erman Ekinci, who had been tried for crimes against humanity in previous sessions, was also to be decided. Ekinci attended the hearing via the teleconference system SEGBİS after submitting an excuse petition.

After summarizing the petition submitted by the lawyers, Attorney İlke Işık announced that the lawyers would leave their robes and join the families, moving to the audience section with the families. The lawyers' action was met with prolonged applause, and the families chanted, "We want justice."

Some family members of the victims took the stand, voicing their demands for justice and expressing the psychological damage caused by the prolonged legal process.

Derman Doğan, the mother of victim Güney Doğan said, "My son came to Ankara for peace. It never crossed my mind that a bomb would explode. Living is very difficult for me. You also have children; my child was murdered. My child wouldn't harm a fly. What was his sin? He was only dancing. I only want justice."

Zöhre Tedik, the mother of Korkmaz Tedik, said, "We only wanted peace. We came so that young people and soldiers wouldn't die. You rejected all our requests. You didn't try those who killed 103 people for 'crimes against humanity.' If Korkmaz had lived, we would have had a wedding and grandchildren. Today, my child is gone. If you don't prosecute these murderers, we will, the people will, and Turkey's workers will."

Hatice Çevik, the mother of Başak Sidar Çevik, emphasized their long-standing quest for justice, saying, "We lost our loved ones and were injured in a massacre carried out in plain sight. There are still people undergoing treatment. Some have died by suicide. We ask you to do everything you can to ensure justice. We want you to make a decision that allows you to sleep peacefully at night."

Ayfer Koçak, co-chair of the Confederation of Public Employees Trade Union (KESK) stated that 27 KESK members died that day. 

She continued, “If security was not ensured, it was because they did not want to ensure it. The decision here will determine whether the people's and workers' right to stand against wars and injustices is secured.”

The union co-chair said that the victims were speaking “from a place where hopes have dwindled; we want hope to bloom again.” 

Deputy Orhan Sarıbal from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) took the stand to criticize the judicial proceedings. 

"The effort to insist that crimes against humanity were not committed in such a case is part of this process. October 10 was a crucial decision for the government to maintain its power. If you can break free from this tutelage, something will change in this country."

Mustafa Özdağ, one of the Oct. 10 survivors, said, "We have wounds that have been healing for nine years. I want to say, 'There are judges in Ankara,' but I can't say that given the current state of the court. I hope it will be so. This trial is not a legal one; it is political. We will pursue the true perpetrators of this massacre until they are prosecuted."

Co-chair of The Health and Social Services Workers’ Trade Union (SES) Sıddık Akın recounted the moments after the bomb went off.
"With our white flags that read 'peace,' we attended to our friends' wounds. They threw tear gas at us. We waited at least 15-20 minutes for the gas to disperse. On behalf of our friends whom we couldn't help and lost, I ask, Who were those who threw the gas? We want those responsible to be prosecuted."

Due to the absence of the attorney for defendant Erman Ekici and the nonattendance of the other defendants' attorneys, the hearing was postponed to July 1. 

(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)