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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 February 2007, 03:00 GMT
Seven jailed for Turkey bombings
Loai al-Saqa - 22/5/2006
Loai al-Saqa was convicted for masterminding the attacks
A court in Turkey has sentenced seven people to life in prison for the 2003 Istanbul bombings which killed 58 people including the UK consul-general.

A Syrian, Loai al-Saqa, was jailed for masterminding and securing finance for the attacks on the UK consulate, two synagogues and an HSBC bank branch.

The remaining six were Turkish citizens convicted of organising the bombings.

A total of 74 people were tried - many received lighter sentences and 26 of them were acquitted.

As the verdicts were read out to a packed courtroom, several defendants shouted "God is great".

The judge ruled that five of those sentenced to life, including Saqa, should not be allowed to benefit from any sentence reductions or amnesties.

'High-level operative'

The court was told that a group of men, calling themselves Warriors for Islam, came together to plan the attacks on the direct orders of Osama Bin Laden.

In court, many of the defendants admitted attending training camps in Afghanistan for Islamic extremists - but all but one man denied any part in the Istanbul attacks.

The damaged British consulate in Istanbul in 2003
The UK consulate in Istanbul was one of the targets
Harun Ilhan, one of the men jailed for life, admitted plotting the bombings and being a member of al-Qaeda.

Saqa - who had denied involvement in the attacks - was described by the state prosecutor as a high-level operative for al-Qaeda.

"Hey my hero brothers! Do not worry for me. Victory is very near," Saqa said during final arguments.

Also sentenced to life in prison were Fevzi Yitiz - for helping to build the truck bombs - and Yusuf Polat, Baki Yigit, Osman Eken and Adnan Ersoz.

Seyit Ertul was convicted of leading an al-Qaeda cell in the Turkish town of Konya and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Hamid Obysi was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years for membership of al-Qaeda, bomb-making and producing false identity cards

Twenty-nine people received sentences of six years and three months and 10 more were sentenced to three years and nine months for helping the bombings.

UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett welcomed the verdicts.

"These were abhorrent acts, two of which specifically targeted British interests," she said.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Defendant Loa'i al-Saqa is led out in handcuffs



SEE ALSO
Turkey bomb 'linchpin' on trial
20 Mar 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Turkey
18 Jan 07 |  Country profiles



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