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Islamic State suspects use Turkey’s remorse law to get off the hook

Taking advantage of the Turkish judicial system and the political climate besieging it, Islamic State suspects often receive sentence reductions under repentance provisions, even if they feign regret.
A masked Turkish special force police officer detains two men during a house raid to arrest suspected members of the Islamic State group, in Adana, on Nov. 10, 2017.
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Back in February, Turkish police posing as buyers rescued a 7-year-old Yazidi girl — one of the many Yazidi victims the Islamic State (IS) abducted and enslaved — after her captives advertised her for sale on what is known as the “deep web” of criminal activities. Less than half a year on, the three Iraqi suspects nabbed in the operation in Ankara have all walked free.

That IS militants could easily find safe harbor in Turkey is not a secret, but the fact that suspects supposed to stand trial for grave crimes such as abduction, enslavement and maltreatment could walk free under judicial control is not merely a legal scandal but a sign that the suspects are shown leniency and favor. Moreover, the trials of IS suspects in Turkey show the penal code’s Article 221 on “effective remorse” — designed to encourage confessions about terrorist groups in return for sentence reductions — is becoming a means for suspects to evade due punishment.

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