Turkish court sentences 14 to life imprisonment over Istanbul twin bombings

Police arrive at the site of an explosion in central Istanbul, Turkey, on December 10, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
A Turkish court has sentenced fourteen people to life in prison without parole for involvement in twin deadly bombings in the country’s largest city of Istanbul in 2016.

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency, citing judicial sources, reported that four out of the 27 defendants were sentenced to one count of life without parole for disrupting the unity of the state and 46 counts for premeditated murder by bombing.

The four were also handed 4,890 years in prison for attempted premeditated murder, keeping hazardous substances and damaging public property.

Ten others were also sentenced to life in prison without parole for disrupting the unity of the state, in addition to 3,380 years in jail for other crimes.

Another four defendants were sentenced to up to 15 years for the membership of a terrorist organization.

The court ruled to separate the case against nine of the defendants, one of whom is still at large.
A damaged vehicle is seen after a blast in Istanbul, Turkey, on December 10, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
On December 10, 2016, two bombs – one planted inside a car and another strapped to a bomber – detonated outside the Vodafone Arena stadium in the Besiktas district of Istanbul, following a professional soccer game. A total of 46 people, including 39 police officers, lost their lives and 243 others sustained injuries.

The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

PKK militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.Turkey, along with the European Union and the United States, has declared the PKK a terrorist group and banned it. The militant group has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.