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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 23:31 GMT
Beckett welcomes bomb sentences
The damaged British Consulate in Istanbul in 2003
The attack caused severe damage to the British Consulate
The foreign secretary has welcomed the life terms given to seven men for the 2003 Istanbul bombings which killed 58 people, including three Britons.

Consul-General Roger Short, 58, was among those killed in the attacks, which targeted premises including an HSBC bank and the British Consulate.

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

She praised the efforts of the Turkish authorities in "pursuing justice".

A Syrian, Loa'i al-Saqa, was jailed for masterminding and securing finance for the 20 November attacks, which also involved bombings at two synagogues.

My thoughts at this difficult time are with those who lost relatives and friends and those who were injured in these abominable acts of terrorism
Margaret Beckett

The other six men 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.

After the sentences were handed down by a Turkish court, Mrs Beckett said: "My thoughts at this difficult time are with those who lost relatives and friends and those who were injured in these abominable acts of terrorism.

"I would also like to express my profound appreciation to the Turkish authorities for their co-operation and assistance - both at the time of the bombings and subsequently - and welcome their efforts in pursuing justice."

Effectively tackling terrorism relied on strong cross-border partnerships "such as that with our Turkish friends", she said.

"We will do all in our power to prevent such tragedies but, where they do occur, we will work to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Saqa was described by the state prosecutor as a high-level operative for al-Qaeda.

The Turkish 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.

All but one of them denied any involvement.

The Syrian mastermind, Loa'i al-Saqa, is led out in handcuffs

Country profile: Turkey
18 Jan 07 |  Country profiles

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