Victims’ families outraged as court sentences single defendant in Suruç massacre case

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The families of victims of an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide attack in the Suruç district of Şanlıurfa province six years ago were outraged after a local court sentenced only one defendant to prison in the final hearing of the trial, local media reported on Friday.

Thirty-three people were killed and more than 100 others were injured when an ISIL suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Amara Culture Center in Suruç on July 20, 2015.

The Şanlıurfa 5th High Criminal Court on Friday gave Yakup Şahin, the only suspect on trial, 34 aggravated life sentences in addition to 1,900 years, also sentencing him to pay TL 40,000 ($4,167) on charges that include “premeditated murder,” “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order,” “attempted murder” and “membership in an armed terrorist organization.”

The court also filed complaints with the Urfa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office against Koray Türkay, Şahin Tümüklü, Çağla Seven, Fethi Aydın, who were injured in the attack, and lawyer Sezgin Uçar, due to their remarks while delivering their defense.

Suruç massacre victims’ families applauded the court’s decision and chanted, “We will hold them to account for Suruç.”

In October the Constitutional Court found inadmissible an application submitted by 13 people accusing public officials of “violating the victims’ right to life” in the Suruç massacre by means of “systematic negligence with regard to ISIL,” based on several reasons that include the “non-exhaustion of domestic remedies” and “a lack of concrete evidence” proving the claims.

While the applicants argued that public authorities chose not to prevent the attack, although they were in possession of intelligence on it, and therefore, didn’t carry out a preventive search of the area where the bombing took place, amounting to willful negligence, the court stated that there was no intelligence suggesting beforehand that ISIL would carry out a suicide bombing in Suruç.

The 2015 explosion occurred while a group of university students was releasing a press statement on their planned trip to the Syrian town of Kobani on the Turkish border to help with reconstruction efforts. The city, which was recaptured from ISIL by a coalition of Kurdish forces supported by the US in January 2015, was in ruins as a result of intense fighting.

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