Militant Islamist group’s leader released pending retrial
Selih İzzet Erdiş was greeted by the deputy mayor of Bolu after his release on July 22. DHA PhotoThe leader of the Islamic Great East Raiders Front (IBDA-C) militant group was released on July 22, after his lawyer’s demand for a retrial was accepted by the court.
Salih İzzet Erdiş, known by the alias “Salih Mirzabeyoğlu,” was arrested in 1999 and was initially sentenced to death on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order by use of arms.” His sentence was converted into aggravated life imprisonment in 2002 after the death penalty was abolished in Turkey.
Erdiş was one of the figures arrested following the events that unfolded after Feb. 28, 1997, widely known as the “post-modern coup.”
The Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court ruled on July 22 that Erdiş could be released from a prison facility in the western province of Bolu, on the grounds that his long imprisonment could result in “irreparable damage.”
Erdiş was greeted by the deputy mayor of Bolu after his release. He also thanked President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ for the recent judicial changes that paved the way for the retrial of suspects sentenced during the Feb. 28, 1997 process.
IBDA-C claimed that it, together with al-Qaeda, was behind four bombings in Istanbul that killed at least 52 people in 2003, including the blasts at the British consulate and the Turkey headquarters of HSBC Bank.
Security experts had linked IBDA-C to Ansar al-Islam, a militant group based in Kurdish northern Iraq that is accused by Washington of being an al-Qaeda ally and a force behind attacks on occupying U.S. troops in Iraq.