Turkey detains suspect in Syrian toddler’s death

Turkey detains human trafficking suspect for involvement in death of 12 refugees, including Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, off Turkish coast en route to Greece

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A relative mourns over the body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, one of the two Syrian toddlers who drowned with their mother, during a burial ceremony in the northern border town of Kobani, Syria, September 4, 2015

Turkish police detained a human trafficking suspect in southern Mugla province on Sunday for being involved in the Syrian family tragedy in which 12 people drowned and washed off the southern coast of Bodrum, Turkey last week.

Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi’s photo, showing his petite body on shore, head down, caused a global uproar. Aylan died along with his brother and mother, the father was the only survivor.

Abdullah Kurdi, father of three-year old Aylan Kurdi, cries as he leaves a morgue in Mugla, Turkey, September 3, 2015.

The 12 drowned Syrians included eight children, when their boat capsized en route to the Greek island of Kos in the Aegean Sea.

One Turkish and four Syrian suspects, which were arrested on Friday, are accused of “migrant smuggling and causing death voluntarily” and will be sent to court on Monday. The Turkish suspect was taken into custody in Bodrum District in an operation conducted by police Sunday evening, according to security sources.

Turkish officer who was photographed holding Aylan, Gendarme First Sergeant Mehmet Ciplak, was recently interviewed by Anadolu Agency.

Ciplak was heading the gendarme crime scene investigation team in the resort district of Bodrum in Mugla Province that day, and was sent to Akyarlar Beach around 5 am on Wednesday, after receiving an emergency call about a sunken boat off Fenerburnu, reporting of dead bodies washing up on the Turkish shore.

Sergeant Mehmet Ciplak, Turkish officer who cradled the dead toddler in his hands.

"What matters the most for us is human life. When I approached Aylan, I searched for a sign of life as I prayed for him to be alive, but there wasn't any. I felt so sad," Ciplak said.

"Everyone saw the expression on my face. They've asked me how I could carry such a heavy burden," he added.

TRTWorld and agencies