Suspect of arson attack on Müjdat Gezen Arts Center in Istanbul released after detention
Toygun ATİLLA – ISTANBULThe suspect of the arson attack on the Müjdat Gezen Arts and Culture Center in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district was released on judicial control on Feb. 23.
The suspect was detained by police at his home on Feb. 22.
Police identified a 39-year-old shuttle bus driver, Mehmet Ali Aligül, from video footage of the attack and raided his address in the Sancaktepe district of Istanbul.
The suspect confessed to the attack in his first testimony, saying he staged the attack in reaction to Gezen’s alleged “insult” against the granddaughter of Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamit II.
“I did it as a reaction against Müjdat Gezen’s insult targeting the grandchild of Abdülhamit. I was also drunk at the time of the attack,” Aligül added.
Social media messages posted by the suspect have also come to light after the attack, including threats against Gezen.
The theater academy was set alight in the early hours of Feb. 20. Police and fire department teams were dispatched to the scene after the attack, which caused damage to the building.
Extensive security measures were taken after the incident, with police finding a bottle in the garden of the center and plastic gloves in the dustbin.
Security footage at the entrance of the building showed a man pouring gasoline before setting the building alight.
Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı described the arson attack as a “provocation.”
“This is an obvious provocation. I hope they recover soon, especially the students. Our friends [ministry officials] have called them but could not reach them. We are following this case,” Avcı said, adding that the ministry would issue a statement after completing their inspection.