ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turkish court on Monday handed down 53 life sentences without parole to a man who authorities said planned a 2013 bomb attack near the Syrian border that killed dozens of people, state-owned Anadolu agency said.
Twin car bombs ripped through the border town of Reyhanli in Hatay province on May 11, 2013. At the time, Turkey accused a group loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of carrying out the attacks. Damascus denied any involvement.
Yusuf Nazik, a 34-year-old Turkish national, was sentenced to one count of life in jail without parole for disrupting the unity of the state and 52 counts for killing 52 people, Anadolu said.
He was also sentenced to an additional 5,306 years and six months for various other crimes including the attempted murder of 130 people, being a member of an armed terrorist organisation and keeping unauthorised explosives for terrorist organisation activities, it said.
Nazik was captured inside Syria, in the government-controlled region of Latakia, by members of the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT), a Turkish security official said last September.
Anadolu reported at the time that Nazik had confessed to receiving orders from Syrian intelligence to plan the attack in Turkey and having arranged the transport of explosives.
Twenty-two people had already been jailed earlier last year in connection with the bombing.
Reyhanli is home to thousands of Syrian refugees. Following a series of bombings in the region in 2013, Turkey tightened controls along its 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria.
Turkey has been one of the biggest supporters of the rebels fighting Syrian government forces during the eight-year conflict in Syria. It hosts some 3.5 million Syrian refugees.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Dominic Evans and Alison Williams)