Charges Sought for Turkey Bomb Suspects (AP) By PAUL AMES ISTANBUL, Turkey 11/24/03 5:41 PM)
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ISTANBUL, Turkey - Public prosecutors sought on Monday to charge 12
alleged accomplices of last week´s Istanbul suicide bombers, amid
signs of progress in the investigation into a suspected Islamic
Also, authorities using DNA samples have identified the man who
rammed an explosive-packed pickup truck into the city´s British
Consulate, just minutes after the bombing of the London-based HSBC
bank, Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler said.
"We´ve identified the culprits who carried out the attack on the
British Consulate," Guler said. "We have all the details and we know
Guler would not name the man.
However, the Istanbul daily, Milliyet, defied government reporting
restrictions and identified him as Feridun Ugurlu, a Turk believed to
have fought with Islamic radicals in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
Turkish media reports have said police have tentatively identified
the other suicide bomber as Azad Ekinci.
Turkish media said both bombers in Thursday´s attacks were militants
previously reported to be accomplices of the suicide bombers in the
Nov. 16 attacks on two Istanbul synagogues that killed 23 people.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a televised national address
on the eve of the religious holiday ending the Muslim fasting month
of Ramadan, appealed to Turks to resist terrorism.
"This is a war between justice and cruelty, good and bad, and true
and false, it is our right to expect every sensible person to stand
by justice, good, and true in this war," Erdogan said.
On Monday, police escorted 16 suspects, all alleged accomplices, into
a security court that handles terrorism cases.
News reports said that public prosecutors were calling for charges
against 12 of them. It was not immediately known what the charges
Four others were released apparently for lack of evidence, the
Anatolia news agency reported.
The suspects covered their heads with jackets and coats as they
arrived at the court. A police line held back a crowd of shouting
relatives, which included several women wearing black chadors, the
all-covering garment rare in downtown Istanbul.
Those appearing in court were among 18 suspects detained after
Thursday´s attacks. The three others remained in custody at an
Istanbul police station.
The attacks, which killed 30 people, coincided with a visit to London
by President Bush. They came days after the double bombing against
two Istanbul synagogues.
Police are examining the hard drives of 10 computers taken after the
synagogue bombings from an Bingol Internet cafe that belonged to the
brother of one of the suspected bombers, a local official said by
telephone. He asked not to be named.
On Sunday, Erdogan said it was too early to confirm al-Qaida
involvement. Foreign and Turkish officials say the attacks bore the
hallmarks of the network led by Osama bin Laden.
Turkish investigators spread out to the southeastern city of Bingol,
believed to be the hometown of all four suicide bombers. The city is
a hotbed of the Hezbollah radical Islamic group, which is separate
from the Lebanese group of the same name.
Experts speculate that Hezbollah may have been backed by Turkish
authorities in the early 1980s to counter Kurdish separatists
fighting a bloody insurgency against the military in the southeast.
Turkey now sees the group as a threat to the secular state and is
investigating any links to al-Qaida.
On Wednesday, authorities arrested six people in connection with the
synagogue bombings. A court charged five with "attempting to
overthrow the constitutional structure," which carries a life
sentence. The sixth was charged with "helping illegal organizations,"
punishable by five years in prison.
No trial date was set.
Under government instructions, sermons in mosques around the country
were to carry an anti-terrorism message at the start of the three-day
religious holiday ending Ramadan on Tuesday.
(Copyright 2002 Associated Press. 11/24/03)
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