Prosecutor drops investigation into ISIL wedding attack despite testimony

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A woman cries during a funeral for victims of last night's attack on a wedding party that left 50 dead in Gaziantep inear the Syrian border on August 21, 2016. AFP PHOTO / ILYAS AKENGIN

Prosecutor Fatih Adıgüzel on Friday dropped an investigation into an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide bombing in Gaziantep that targeted a wedding in a Kurdish neighborhood and killed 56 people, on Aug. 21, 2016, due to a lack of sufficient evidence despite testimony that included serious allegations against the suspects.

Two of the suspects in the case were killed, while two others were not brought to justice due to a lack of evidence. However, the prosecutor stated that one of the suspects, Abdulhamit Boz, is an ISIL member who had conducted an attack against a police station in Gaziantep on May 1, 2016 according to witness testimony.

A relative of Boz, witness İdris Atilla, told the prosecutor that Boz had admitted to him that he was the organizer of the wedding attack, which mostly claimed the lives of children.

Boz allegedly told his relative Atilla that “state officials also know I organized the attack, but they are protecting us” as he warned Atilla to watch his step.

Atilla also said in his testimony that once Boz told him that there would be a sensational attack in Gaziantep in the days to come. Fifteen days before the wedding attack, Boz allegedly took a photo of the invitation at the Association for the People of Pervari, a local club in Gaziantep where the hosts of the wedding posted the invitation. Atilla said he and others who noticed Boz’s suspicious behavior called the police.

Despite these allegations, the prosecutor dropped the case, stating that that was no security cameras around the Association for the People of Pervari and the witnesses –Mehmet Atılgan, Abdurrahman Atılgan, Emrah Kayra and Ferhat Kayra — who claimed to have informed the police did not in fact call the authorities.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had reacted to protesters of a nightclub massacre on New Year’s Day in İstanbul with the argument that it was an attack against the secular lifestyle and asked them why they kept quiet when another terrorist attack hit the southeastern city of Gaziantep in August.

Addressing muhtars — Turkey’s lowest ranking elected local administrators — for the 33rd time in his palace in Ankara, Erdoğan had compared the two attacks perpetrated by ISIL in İstanbul’s upscale Ortaköy district and a poor neighborhood in Gaziantep. “Is there a difference between the attacks in Ortaköy and Gaziantep?” Erdoğan asked, and went on to say: “I wonder what those who expressed outrage against the attack in Ortaköy wrote about the 56 people [killed] in Gaziantep. I am asking, was it not a big massacre? Why did you keep quiet then?”

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