Reyhanlı suspect met with Assad prior to bombings

November 06, 2013, Wednesday/ 13:15:00/ MEHMET ŞAHİN

A key suspect in the twin bombings that rocked Hatay's Reyhanlı district in May met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before the bombings took place, according to an indictment prepared by the prosecution for the case into the bombings.

Turkey was shocked by the incident in Reyhanlı, which killed 53 people and wounded more than 100. Reyhanlı is a principal location for Syrian refugees who have fled violence in their country. Turkey blamed the Syrian regime for the attack, but Damascus denied any role in the Reyhanlı bombings.

An indictment prepared by an Adana prosecutor charging 19 defendants seeks a total of 52 aggravated life sentences and 22 years of imprisonment for their alleged involvement in the car bombings that took place in Reyhanlı on May 11. It was accepted by the Adana 8th High Criminal Court.

In the 115-page indictment, Adana prosecutor Özcan Şişman claimed that the deadly attack was organized by Syrian intelligence and the Turkish People's Liberation Party/Front (THKP/C) as well as its splinter faction, the Urgent Ones (Acilciler).

According to the indictment, Mihraç Ural, who is believed to be behind the blasts and is leader of the THKP/C -- a revolutionist, communist terrorist organization founded in Turkey in the early 1970s -- helped Yusuf Nazik, one of the suspected perpetrators of the Reyhanlı bombings, meet with Assad during the planning stage of the attacks.

The indictment also says that three days before the bombings a phone call was made to the Hatay Police Department's Anti-Terrorism Unit warning that the Urgent Ones were preparing to stage a bomb attack in Turkey.

The person who made the call did not reveal his identity, but said he wanted to give information about Ural and his terror organization.

An investigation was launched into the claims of the informant, but the attacks in Reyhanlı could not be prevented, the indictment said.

The indictment also said the suspects of the Reyhanlı bombings planned the attacks upon orders from the Urgent Ones and the Syrian intelligence agency Mukhabarat.

Turkey currently hosts around 600,000 Syrian refugees. Among them, 80,000 are reportedly housed in Reyhanlı. Locals in the district have been unwilling to welcome or host refugees since the bombings, according to media reports, since many believe that some refugees were involved in the deadly attack.

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