IS suspect in Istanbul bomb attack released in Turkey

Aftermath of bomb attack on Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul, March 2016.

Erkan Capkin, an Islamic State (IS) suspect on trial for the deadly March 2016 bombing in Istanbul’s popular Istiklal Avenue, has been released from prison with the court citing health problems.

Mehmet Ozturk had blown himself up on Istiklal Avenue off Taksim Square on 19 March, 2016, killing four people, including three Israeli citizens, and injuring 44.

Five suspects, who were subsequently arrested in connection to the attack, appeared in court on Friday. Capkin, who is accused of being a member and a leader of a terrorist organisation, was released due to health issues in the first hearing of the case.

The suspects attended the trial via video link, with Capkin reportedly repeating his initial testimony of rejecting all charges against him.

His brother, Ercan Capkin, also said he had no relation to IS or the attack.

“I did not know Mehmet Ozturk who staged the attack. I did not go abroad through legal or illegal ways. I have never used a code name only my real name,” he testified.

The court ordered the other four suspects in the case to be kept in custody and postponed the trial to a future date.