Teen arsonist 'bribed with chocolate' to spark massive Manavgat forest fire

One of the two teen suspects for the massive forest fires that scorched the Mediterranean district of Manavgat said that he was offered chocolate to spark the flames by a third person identified only by the initial C., Demirören news agency reported on Oct. 1. The suspect later changed his statement to exclude the third instigator, saying that he acted out of his own volition.

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One of the two teen suspects behind the massive forest fires in Mediterranean Manavgat said that he had been offered chocolate by a third person to spark the flames, Demirören news agency reported on Oct. 1. 

One 12-year-old and one 16-year-old were identified as the suspects for the devastating forest fires that scorched Manavgat over the summer. The suspects were identified through DNA found on a plastic bottle filled with a mixture of gasoline and diesel fuel as part of an investigation by law enforcement.

The suspects were identified only as M.A.T. and C.Y., and the former told police that a third person had prompted them to spark the flames, identifying the instigator only by the initial C. and by earrings on both ears.

"C. came to me, pointed to the woods and said 'Light this fire aflame.' I asked why, and he said 'Just do it, it's okay, there aren't any cameras here.' C. gave me chocolate and told me that I could use a lighter at home," 12-year-old M.A.T. said. 

The minor grabbed a lighter from home and went to the woods, made a small pile out of dried grass and set it aflame, he said, adding that they watched it for about five minutes before fleeing when they saw the flames approach a nearby pile of firewood.

"I lit the woods aflame because C. gave me chocolate and told me to set fire to the forest. Nobody threatened me or my family to do it, I regret it very much," M.A.T. said in his initial ceremony. 

In a second statement to the police two days later, M.A.T. said that he had named C. as the instigator because he had seen this person kissing their sister, and because he had once attacked M.A.T. 

"I set fire to these woods without being told to by anyone, completely out of my own will," M.A.T. said in his second testimony, adding that he had only pointed to C. to protect himself. 

M.A.T.'s description of where he started the flames was confirmed by expert inspections, and the second suspect C.Y. was seen joking about the forest fires in a video found on his cell phone. 

M.A.T. was released from police detention pending trial, while C.Y. was arrested on charges of arson and damaging public property.

The 12-year-old M.A.T. was found incapable of grasping the consequences of his actions by the Akdeniz University Forensic Science Department, but the Istanbul Forensic Science Institution ruled that the child didn't have any mental shortcomings that affect his ability to evaluate his behavior, finding the child fully liable for "purposefully causing a forest fire." 

An indictment for the crimes sought seven years and one month in prison for 12-year-old M.A.T. and 14 years, one month and 20 days in prison for C.Y. who was thought to have directed the minor.