Turkey's Islamic State terror trials of Anakara bombing suspects begin

  • 08/11/2016
In the days after the bombing, people gathered in Ankara to commemorate the victims (Reuters)
In the days after the bombing, people gathered in Ankara to commemorate the victims (Reuters)

More than a dozen suspected members of Islamic State have appeared in court accused of involvement in Turkey's deadliest suicide bombing, which killed more than 100 people in Ankara just over a year ago.

On Monday, the defendants were brought into the courtroom under the protection of riot police in body armour and helmets, as families and lawyers of the victims chanted "murderers" and demanded the state also accept responsibility.

"If the security measures used to protect the killers today were taken during the rally, the Ankara train station massacre wouldn't have taken place," said Mahmut Tanal, a member of parliament for main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

The defendants were among 36 suspects, some still at large, on trial for plotting the double suicide bombing outside the main train station in Ankara on October 10, 2015, which killed mainly young pro-Kurdish and left-wing activists at a rally.

The 35 Turks and one Kazakh face charges of murder, membership of a terrorist organisation and seeking to change the constitutional order, according to the indictment. Some face multiple sentences of up to 11,750 years in prison.

The twin suicide bombing took place in NATO member Turkey 20 days before a fiercely contested general election, raising tensions between the authorities and opposition supporters among the Kurdish community, Turkey's largest minority.

Turkish forces have been combating an armed campaign by Kurdish militants while Kurdish political organisations have also been the subject of arrests over the last week.

One of the suicide bombers was identified as Turkish citizen Yunus Emre Alagoz and the other as a Syrian citizen who has yet to be identified, according to the indictment seen by Reuters.

Three of the suspects on trial on Monday appeared by video link from the southern city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border, where the Islamic State cell responsible for the attack is thought to have been based.