An Uzbek militant refused to testify Monday during the opening day of his murder trial, even though he has already confessed to killing 39 people during a New Year's Eve attack at a Turkish nightclub on the outskirts of Istanbul.
Abdulkadir Masharipov, 34, has been charged with committing multiple murders, "attempting to destroy constitutional order" and membership in an armed terrorist organization, among other offenses. He faces at least 40 life sentences for each of the victims and an additional one for the massacre as a whole.
The Uzbek national said a senior Russian operative of the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group ordered him to target the Reina nightclub on New Year's Eve last year, according to the indictment.
Fifty-six other suspects are being tried in the same process for their alleged links to the attack, including Masharipov's wife Zarina Nurullayeva, who authorities believe aided her husband with preparing the assault.
From manhunt to crackdown
After indiscriminately firing an AK-47 into a crowd of revelers at the nightclub, Masharipov escaped by disappearing into the crowd fleeing the scene. However, he was later apprehended following a weeks-long manhunt involving 2,000 police officers.
The attack remains the last of its kind claimed by IS in a major Turkish city after security services launched a major crackdown on extremist networks in Istanbul and elsewhere in the country. The operation was made possible in large part due to information provided by Masharipov.
The Reina nightclub, once frequented by Turkey's football stars and soap opera icons, has since been demolished due to violations of construction code, according to authorities.
Still a threat
Authorities have warned of an increased threat of terror attacks in Europe and the Middle East as foreign fighters attempt to return home in the wake of military victories against the militant group in Syria and Iraq.
Read more: Will the 'Islamic State' survive?
In October, the head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency said foreign fighters and "children, socialized by Islamists … returning to Germany from a war zone" represent a threat to security in the country.
Germany and other European countries have been hit by a wave of terror attacks claimed by IS since the militant group's rise in 2014.
ls/ng (dpa, AFP)