District police chief charged with ‘misconduct’ over Suruç bombing
İsmail Saymaz – ŞANLIURFAThe district police chief in the Suruç district of the southeastern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa is facing charges of “misconduct” over alleged negligence in taking additional security measures before the July 20, 2015 suicide bombing that killed 34 people, despite warnings of an imminent attack.
The case was opened upon a complaint from the family of Hatice Ezgi Şadet, who was among the victims in the bombing staged by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and the subsequent approval by the Şanlıurfa Governor’s Office of an investigation on Nov. 20, 2015.
Suruç police chief Mehmet Yapalıal is accused of “misconduct” for reportedly neglecting to put in place additional security measures around Onbirnisan Street, where the attack took place, despite receiving prior authorization for additional checks and a warning from the Şanlıurfa police of an “imminent” and “regrettable” incident in the district.
According to the indictment prepared by the public prosecutor’s office in Suruç, the district criminal court of peace decided to introduce intercepting searches in a number of streets and avenues, including the site of the explosion, between July 8 and Aug. 8, 2015.
The court cited “the designation of all types of weapons, explosives and prohibited materials,” in addition to the preservation of national security, public order and peoples’ rights and liberties in introducing the additional security measures.
The indictment also included a document entitled “Reinforcement” issued by the Şanlıurfa police on July 17, 2015, demanding the introduction of additional security measures from July 19 onwards against an imminent attack. The document specifically named Yapalıal as “responsible” for the implementation of the measures with help from 40 riot police and two water cannons.
“All on-duty personnel will be careful, vigilant and on alert against possible suicide attacks,” the statement read.
But the district police chief failed to “take the necessary security measures and did not establish checkpoints to check the bodies and belongings of people in order to determine all types of material against attacks targeting the group around the Amara Cultural Center on July 20, 2015,” the indictment stated.
At least 300 members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) were staying at the Amara Culture Center as part of a summer expedition to help rebuild Kobane, which lies directly across the border from Suruç, at the time of the explosion.
The culture center, which is run by the Suruç Municipality under the control of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), frequently hosts visiting journalists and volunteers who work with refugees from Kobane, which had previously been under attack from ISIL militants.