Prosecutor scraps investigation into truck filled with warheads

The case, known as the “rocket warhead” case, was dropped by the prosecutor of the Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau. Truck driver L.K. (47), machinist I.P. (42) and Y.E.H. (43), who spent two months in jail, are now preparing to sue the state for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

The case was placed under a publication ban after it was deemed that the information pertaining to the case included “documents possessing characteristics of state secrets.”

In November 2013, Turkish security forces seized the truck loaded with 935 rocket warheads and other weapons in an industrial estate of the southern province of Adana upon receiving an anonymous tip-off for alleged narcotics smuggling.

The order for the 935 cast-iron blocks to be converted into warheads identified as 120 millimeter mortar shells was given by Heysem Topalca, a Turkish official known be involved in lawsuits regarding terrorist bombings in Turkey.

One in particular linked him to a case in which two suspects, who stood trial as part of an investigation into the twin bombings in Reyhanlı, confessed that Topalca had pushed them to mastermind the attack.

The attack in Reyhanlı that took place on May 11, 2013, when two car bombs exploded and killed at least 52 people and injured 140, was one of the most deadly acts of terrorism to have occurred on Turkish soil.

Topalca was also accused of facilitating the entry of the terrorists from Syria into Turkey who killed 3 people, including two police officers, in Nigde in March 2014.

In February 2013, the prosecutor said the investigation found that a National Intelligence Organization (MİT) official had purchased SIM cards for the four suspects who orchestrated the car bombing attacks in Cilvegozu, a Turkish border town. At least 14 people were killed in the attack, including several Turkish nationals.

Turkey has wanted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad removed from power ever since the uprising of — what is now a fully-fledged — civil war in the spring of 2011 in its neighbor. Assad is a member Shiite Islam, whose members are a minority in both Sunni-dominated Syria and Turkey.

The investigation into 23 suspects, including Topalca, was dropped as the prosecutor found that the rocket warheads “had not yet been converted into mortar shells.”

The discovery of the truck loaded with warheads in Adana was a precursor to the interception of the trucks belonging to the MİT in 2014 that were reportedly carrying weapons to radical groups in Syria.

Early in 2014, an anonymous tip-off led to the interception of a number of trucks on the suspicion of weapons smuggling. The first operation took place in Hatay on Jan. 1, 2014. Similarly, on Jan. 19, 2014, after another anonymous tip-off, three more trucks were stopped and searched in Turkey’s southern Adana province, revealing that they were packed full with weapons.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently unwittingly validated claims made by critics that the Turkish government was sending weapon-filled trucks to radical groups in Syria by sarcastically asking, “So what if the MİT trucks were filled with weapons?”

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) officials have called the 2014 investigation into the MİT trucks carrying weapons “treason and espionage” on the part of the prosecutors as the trucks were said to be transporting “humanitarian aid” to the Bayır-Bucak Turkmens. However, claims were also made by the opposition and by the Turkish media that the trucks were in fact transporting weapons to radical factions in Syria.

Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time, said during a television program immediately after the interception of the trucks became public knowledge that the trucks were carrying aid supplies to Turkmens in Syria.

Many high-level Turkish officials, including then-President Abdullah Gul, said the trucks’ cargo was a “state secret,” which led some to speculate that the trucks were carrying arms.

However, Syrian-Turkmen Assembly Vice Chairman Hussein al-Abdullah said in January 2014 that no trucks carrying aid had arrived from Turkey.