Turkish government releases 7 more ISIL militants from prison

A Turkish court ordered the release of seven suspects, who are alleged members of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levants (ISIL) in the trial over the deadly New Year attack on an İstanbul nightclub following an initial series of hearings on Saturday.

İstanbul’s 27th Criminal Court in Silivri Prison ruled that 44 suspects — including the self-confessed attacker Uzbek citizen Abdulkadir Masharipov — must stay in jail. But it said seven, who were coded as C.Ç., M.J., S.B., A.T., M.K., K.K. and M.M., could go free under judicial control. This means that they remain charged and will have to regularly report to the authorities. A total of 57 suspects are on trial, with the remaining number freed under judicial control or on the run.

The trial opened on December 11 with the court hearing five days of testimony. The next hearings will begin on March 26.

Masharipov, who was present for the hearings, has refused to testify although the court heard from his wife who is also on trial and denied all knowledge of the plot.

The deadly attack on the Reina nightclub killed 39 people, most of them foreigners, who were celebrating the start of 2017. Masharipov, who was captured after 17 days on the run, faces 40 life sentences, one for each of the victims and the massacre itself.

After taking a taxi to the elite waterside nightclub, Masharipov shot dead the security guard before marching inside and firing indiscriminately with his AK-47 at the terrified revelers and setting off grenades.

ISIL, which at the time controlled swathes of neighbouring Iraq and Syria, claimed the attack. It remains the only time it has issued an unequivocal claim for an attack in Turkey. Masharipov, who used the ISIL codename Abu Mohammed Horasani, was just one of several nationals of Uzbekistan implicated in jihadist attacks this year.

Because of light sentences given by Turkish courts to ISIL militants, those militants who were arrested after escaping from Northern Syria demands to stand trial in Turkey. Recently an Australian ISIL militant Neil Christopher Prakash appealed to Turkish authorities to refuse an extradition request by the Australian government and stated that he wants to stand trial in Turkey.

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