Seven suspects arrested in the case against the Turkish branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were released on March 24, meaning that all 94 suspects in the case are now on trial without arrest.
The Istanbul 13th Court of Serious Crimes released Halis Bayancuk, Cemil Aslan, Enes Yelgün, Erdal Yaşar, Mehmet Karlı, and Syrian nationals Muhammed Mustafa Halli and Asaad Khelifalkhadr, who had been arrested for being ISIL members.
Halli and Khelifalkhadr gave their testimonies with the help of an interpreter and denied the charges that they escorted two French-national women from Istanbul to the southeastern province of Gaziantep and then over to Syria to join ISIL.
“As I am in the tourism business, we sometimes escort foreigners upon their demand. But I have not sent anyone to ISIL. I do not support ISIL, or its ideas,” said Khelifalkhadr, who admitted entering Turkey illegally.
Halli said he entered Turkey illegally to flee the conflict in Syria, first arriving in Gaziantep before continuing on to Istanbul, where he runs a teahouse. He also denied charges that he sent anyone to Syria to join ISIL.
One of the previously released suspects of the case, Gökhan Bulut, took part in the trial through the voice and video informatics system (SEGBİS). He said in his testimony that he had found the bombs for which he was arrested in a car he had rented, and denied that they belonged to him.