68 PKK militants and PYD head Saleh Moslim indicted for deadly Ankara bombing
AFP photoProsecutors on Nov. 30 sought life sentences for 68 suspects, including senior leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Salih Moslim, the head of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), linked to the bomb attack on a military bus in Ankara earlier this year that killed 29.
Most of those named on the indictment are still at large and half are senior leaders in the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU.
The attack was claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), which the prosecutors said is a dummy organization used by the PKK.
The Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office requested 30 aggravated life sentences for each defendant if they are convicted. Under Turkish law, such a sentence means remaining behind bars until death, usually in isolation.
The suspects - 20 of who have been in custody since shortly after the Feb. 17 attack - face charges of murder and crimes against the state. Arrest warrants for the other 48 were issued last week.
The blast saw a car packed with explosives detonate alongside a military bus ferrying service personnel and civilians during evening rush hour traffic. The driver, Abdulbaki Somer, a Turkish national from Van province in his mid-20s, also died in the explosion.
Somer is said to have joined the PKK in 2005 when he was 16 and had been based in the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq until 2014.
Among the 29 killed were at least 20 military members. The explosion occurred in an area of central Ankara where there are a large number of military complexes and apartment blocks for service families.
The suspects include acting PKK leader Murat Karayılan and fellow co-founders and members of the group’s leadership committee, Cemil Bayık and Fehman Hüseyin.
Zübeyir Aydar and Remzi Kartal, said to be senior Europe-based PKK leaders, are also named on the indictment. They are currently being prosecuted in Belgium, where they are accused of kidnapping children in Europe and sending them for training in Greece and Iraq, forging documents and extorting businessmen.