An Uzbek militant who confessed to killing 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub in a New Year gun attack refused to testify Monday on the first day of his trial as his wife denied any links to extremists.
Abdulkadir Masharipov, 34 at the time of the attack, went on trial at the Silivri prison complex near Istanbul along with 56 other suspects.
Masharipov, who was present in court, faces 40 life sentences, one for each of the victims and the massacre itself.
The others on trial include Masharipov’s wife Zarina Nurullayeva who is a suspected accomplice and risks similar penalties to her husband. All but six are being held in custody.
Masharipov is facing charges ranging from “attempting to destroy constitutional order” and “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”, to “murdering more than one person”.
According to the indictment, the order for the Afghanistan-trained Masharipov to carry out the attack was given by a senior Russian Syria-based Daesh extremist named Islam Atabiev, codenamed Abu Jihad.
Masharipov — dressed in a sweater and jeans — was seated between two members of the Turkish gendarmerie and kept well away from the other defendants in court.
When given the chance to speak by the judge, he used his right to silence and refused to testify, speaking in Uzbek translated into Turkish.