The main suspect in a New Year's Day shooting which killed 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub two years ago denied the charges against him in court on Monday, Turkey's state-owned Anadolu news agency reported. Abdulkadir Masharipov, an Uzbek national, was captured on Jan. 17, 2017 by police who said he acted on behalf of Islamic State. The jihadist group claimed credit for the attack, saying it was revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria.
Masharipov was one of 58 defendants, 39 of who are in detention, on trial in an Istanbul courthouse on Monday over the attack at the exclusive Reina nightclub. The attacker opened fire with an automatic rifle, throwing stun grenades to allow himself to reload and shooting the wounded on the ground. Victims included Turks, Arabs, Canadians and Indians.
Masharipov rejected his previous statements to police in which he admitted guilt, and disputed evidence against him, saying he was not the person photographed holding an assault rifle in the club, Anadolu said. He blamed the media for linking him to the attack, and said he hid after he saw the photos attached to his name because he did not have identification papers, Anadolu said. The Reina shooting was one of a string of attacks that year believed to have been carried out by the jihadist Islamic State and also by Kurdish militants.
(With inputs from agencies.)