Former justice minister escapes assassination attempt

Former justice minister escapes assassination attempt

Hikmet Sami Türk

April 30, 2009, Thursday/ 17:49:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES
A former justice minister escaped unscathed from an explosion at an Ankara university yesterday after a woman approached him and detonated a bomb.

Two people were detained in connection to the incident. Former Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Türk, who is an expert in constitutional law, was about enter a Bilkent University hall to give a lecture when a woman, identified as Didem Akman, approached him and ignited the fuse of a bomb she was carrying on her body, but the bomb did not explode. One of Türk’s bodyguards captured the young woman after the failed assassination attempt. Another suspect, identified as Serkan Onur Yılmaz, who the police said was keeping watch for Akman, was detained at a bus terminal in Ankara.

“A woman approached and detonated a bomb. She was lying on the floor one meter away from me. I think she was injured,” Türk said.

Adding that his bodyguards overpowered the suspect and that a second fuse was found on the woman. The hall at Bilkent University was evacuated following the incident. Türk said he had been receiving death threats since a prison uprising in December 2000 when several inmates and prison guards were killed. He had earlier escaped similar attempts, including one in 2002 by an attacker who posed as a journalist at Kartal Prison, where Türk was offering a tour for journalists. When asked if Türk recognized the woman, he said she was lying face down on the floor when he saw her, so he could not see her face, but she was a heavier woman who did not seem like one of his students. “I don’t think she is one of our students. There is a terrorist organization targeting me. I think she must be one of them,” he said. Bilkent University Deputy Rector Kürşat Aydoğan confirmed that there was an explosion on the first floor of the faculty of law yesterday morning.

Former justice minister escapes assassination attempt

A woman identified as Didem Akman was apprehended after a failed assassination attempt against former Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Türk yesterday at Bilkent University.

“According to the information I received, a woman tried to detonate a bomb. It exploded but didn’t work properly, so she injured herself. At that time, she was secured by Mr. Türk’s bodyguards. Shortly after, gendarmes disarmed the bomb, whose fuse had already exploded, and the would-be assassin, who had minor injuries, was taken to Atatürk Hospital,” he said. He added that Türk was resting at home following the incident.

Former justice minister escapes assassination attempt

Türk held a brief press conference after the incident and said he had recently been receiving death threats.

Background on Akman

The police said Akman, who enrolled as a student on Nov. 5, 2007, at Ankara University, had previously joined a protest against visiting Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Tahin. According to police records, she was jailed for eight months over membership in the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), classified as a terrorist organization.

The police said Akman can be seen in images from the Nov. 5, 2007, protest at Ankara University.

Officials also said Akman was injured because she lit the fuse of the bomb she had on her body. Doctors at Atatürk Hospital, where Akman was taken after the attempted attack, said her condition was not critical.

Akman was born in 1986. Her family resides in İzmir, according to information from the İzmir Police Department. She has been detained three times in her life; the first time was in 2005. Last year, she was captured in a police operation in Ankara into the DHKP/C terrorist organization, after which she was sent to prison for eight months. Akman was trained at a terrorist camp outside Turkey’s borders, officials said.

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