Suspect accused of providing chemical materials to Syrian rebels released by court
The Adana court ruled on the release of the primary suspect primary suspect of the case looking into allegations that radical Syrian rebel groups were seeking to procure materials that could be used to produce highly toxic sarin gas. DHA photoThe primary suspect of the case looking into allegations that radical Syrian rebel groups were seeking to procure materials that could be used to produce highly toxic sarin gas, has been released after a hearing by a local court in Adana, Oct. 30.
The suspect, a 35-year-old Syrian citizen identified as Hytham Qassap, was accused of establishing a connection with a network in Turkey to convey chemical materials for the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front and jihadist Ahrar al-Sham Brigades.
The indictment was based on the probe into chemicals seized in the southern province of Hatay late in May. It also contained Qassap’s testimony where he allegedly confessed his links with the Ahrar al-Sham Brigades and moved to the city of Antakya following the instructions of its leader, Abu Walid.
Qassap told the court that the chemicals seized were all intended to be used for medical purposes according to his own knowledge, adding he had no links with jihadists. “I have no other intention but to procure food and materials to my brothers fighting in Syria. We are in a fight against the al-Qaeda organization. All the materials seized are medical products,” Qassap said, Doğan news agency reported.
He also denied any knowledge about the use of the chemicals. “I researched the chemical materials after a request from members of the Free Syrian Army in Homs. They gave me no information about where and what those materials might be used for. They only told me that white phosphorus could cause smoke if it was thrown somewhere. The drawings in the documents seized were not made by me,” Qassap said.
The court ruled for Qassap’s release with a ban on leaving the country before adjourning the session pending the final verdict.
A main opposition deputy who followed the hearing told reporters that one of Qassap’s lawyers claimed the trial was political. “The lawyer said ‘This is a political trial. Turkey will be embarrassed if there is a conviction in this trial. This is not a legal defense’ Republican People Party’s (CHP) Kocaeli deputy Hurşit Güneş said.
“The lawyer also said that attempt is not a crime. But there are people convicted to life sentences in the Balyoz and Ergenekon cases. The court ruled the release of a suspect who attempted to send weapons that can kill people to another country. As the CHP, we will continue to follow the case,” Güneş said.
Qassap was arrested along with five Turkish suspects, who were later released after lab tests proved the chemicals seized during the operation were not sarin gas.