Leaked audio recording suggests wildfire may have been started by drug addict
A leaked audio recording suggests massive wildfires that ravaged the Mediterranean province of Antalya earlier this month were started by a drug addict in exchange for money, according to investigations carried out by the Manavgat Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
After the Manavgat forest fires where a citizen and two forest workers died, a local woman, identified only as Özlem T., handed over to the gendarme forces an audio recording purportedly depicting conversations about how pine forests in the region were burned.
In the audio recording, a man, identified only as Ali Y., can be heard explaining how he burned the forests by pouring gasoline. The statement of Özlem T., whose testimony was taken as a witness, also contained some disturbing allegations.
“I started the fire in the Manhayıt area of Güçlüköy for 1,000 liras [$120]. In fact, the person who gave the money to start the fire gave an extra 250 liras [$30],” Ali Y. reportedly said, according to Özlem T.
According to the statement, the person who gave money to Ali Y. and the person who made him burn the forest are different people.
Having been taken into custody after the audio recording was delivered to the gendarmerie forces, Ali Y. said that he was a drug addict and that he was intoxicated on the day the recording was taken.
The suspect noted that he might have said the aforementioned remarks in a conversation to “impress” Özlem T., denying the accusations against him.
Despite the suspect claiming that he was in another area when the forest fires started in Güçlüköy settlement, signals from his phone and other eyewitness statements showed otherwise, leading him to be arrested by a court.
Turkey saw hundreds of forest fires erupt in its southern and southwestern provinces on July 28. With intensive and dedicated efforts, all of the blazes were brought under control in over two weeks.