Intelligence alerts ignored by prosecutor in Reyhanli attack

Court documents reveal that warnings issued by Turkey’s spy agency to police force ahead of Reyhanli bombing were overlooked by prosecutor who claimed no “concrete evidence was present” about attack which killed over 50 people

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The correspondence between the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), police force and gendarmerie regarding the 2013 Reyhanli bomb attack show that 13 warnings issued by MIT to the police force were ignored by the prosecutor Ozcan Sisman who was also arrested in the MIT truck probe about espionage and violation of national security law.

In May 11 of 2013, two cars exploded in Reyhanli district of southern Hatay province by the Syrian border, killing 52 people and injuring 200. Of the 52 dead, five were Syrian and 47 were Turkish nationals.

The court asked the MIT, police force and the gendarmerie to respond to the request of correspondence they had regarding the two separate bombings in Reyhanli ahead of the third trial on July 10.

According to the documents sent to the court, MIT had issued warnings to the police force 13 times up until a day before the attacks and coordinated with the police force.

When MIT’s requests were not heeded by the police force, MIT asked Sisman twice to intervene but  he declined to detain the suspects. After the bombing, it was determined the vehicles in the alert provided by the MIT matched the ones used in the bombing.  

Sisman is one of the prosecutors arrested in the probe launched over espionage charges and for violating national security law for searching in 2014 trucks that belong to the MIT with the claim that they were “carrying ammunition to opposition forces in Syria.”

Ozcan is accused of having ties to the Gulen Movement by the Turkish government  which claims the Movement is behind the search of the trucks, threatening national security.

The Movement led by US based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen is accused of forming a parallel state and infiltrating government institutions including the police force, bureaucracy, and judiciary to further their own agenda.

The claims of trucks carrying ammunition were rejected by Turkey's Interior Ministry at the time who said the trucks were conveying humanitarian aid to the Turkmen community in the war-torn country.

Ozcan also has claimed that “MIT played a role in Reyhanli bombing.”

However, the detailed correspondence provided to the court revealed that Sisman failed to take action to stop the bombing despite the presence of 13 previous notices while he was also urged by MIT officials to detain the suspects before they can carry out the attacks.

According to the correspondence, police force wiretapped suspects Nasir Eskiocak, Murat Ozdes and Yusuf Nazik that are presumed to be affiliated with Assad regime after a notice was provided to the police on May 9 that includes the name of Turkish People's Liberation Front (THKP-C).

The correspondence says a detailed notice by MIT regarding the use of two vehicles in the bombing was provided to the Hatay police force on the night of May 10 and MIT asked the prosecutor to detain suspects.

However, the prosecutor in charge, Sisman decided to act slowly, saying  “concrete evidence must be provided as suspects may claim they were joking when they are detained.”

Upon this response, the MIT Adana region director asked Hatay police force to detain the suspects for questioning and that the interrogation would personally be supported by himself, but the police force could not be swayed.

When Sisman was asked again to intervene to take action, he assured the MIT that “the police force are carrying out their duties and that any phase after this point would be their responsibility,” regarding the attack that killed over 50 people and injures hundreds.

The bombing was one of the bloodiest terrorist attacks in Turkey’s history. The suspects detained after the attacks were reported to be members of a group led by Eskiocak and tied to the Syrian Assad regime’s Mukhabarat .

19 suspects, nine of them under arrest, are being tried by the Ankara Ninth Heavy Penal Court.

TRTWorld and agencies