Turkey indicts 69 over Istanbul bombings

A Turkish prosecutor has indicted 69 suspects over four massive November car bombings which killed 63 people and left hundreds injured in Istanbul.

    The charge sheet has called for prison terms up to 22.5 years

    The report  on Wednesday by the Anatolia news agency did not detail the charges, but the NTV news channel said the indictments sought life imprisonment for five of the defendants for "attempting to change the constitutional order by force". 

    The charge sheet called for prison terms ranging from four-and-a-half-years to 22.5 years for the remaining defendants for "belonging to an illegal organisation" and "aiding and abetting an illegal organisation", NTV added. 

    It was not immediately clear when the trial of the 69 defendants - 50 of whom are currently in custody - would begin. 

    Turkish authorities say Turkish Islamic extremists with links to al-Qaida network of Usama bin Ladin were behind the 15 November bombings of two synagogues and the 20 November attacks on the British consulate and the offices of the HSBC bank. 

    'Battleground'

    The 127-page indictment, drawn up by a team of five prosecutors from Istanbul's state security court, said a leader of al-Qaida cell in Turkey had met up with a senior al-Qaida member and received his permission to carry out attacks in Turkey, NTV said. 

    It said the members of the organisation did not see Turkey - a predominantly Muslim but strictly secular NATO member - as a Muslim country and considered it to be a "battleground", the report added. 

    The leaders of the Turkey cell were initially planning to attack
    an airbase in southern Turkey, which has been used by the United States and Britain to patrol the skies of northern Iraq, and an Israeli passenger ship in the holiday resort of Alanya on the Mediterranean coast, NTV said, quoting the indictment. 

    But the organisation apparently dropped its plans because of
    tight security at the base, it added. 

    The indictment added that some members of the Turkish
    organisation had met with bin Ladin in person and several had received training in camps operated by the organisation in
    Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    SOURCE: AFP


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