ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turkish court on Friday sentenced fourteen people to life in jail without parole for involvement in twin bombings in Istanbul that killed dozens in December of 2016, state-owned Anadolu news agency said.
The bombing was one of a series of attacks nationwide that began in mid-2015, at the start of around 1-1/2 years of heightened security threats from the Islamic State militant group and the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Following a professional soccer game on Dec. 10, 2016, two bombs – one planted in a car and another strapped to a suicide bomber – detonated outside the stadium of Besiktas, one of Turkey’s biggest clubs. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), an offshoot of the PKK, claimed the attack.
Out of the 27 defendants, four were sentenced to one count of life without parole for disrupting the unity of the state and 46 counts for premeditated murder by bombing, Anadolu said.
It said the four were also handed 4,890 years in prison for attempted premeditated murder, keeping hazardous substances and damaging public property, Anadolu said.
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, it said. Four of the defendants were sentenced up to 15 years for membership of a terrorist organisation.
The court ruled to separate the case against nine of the defendants, one of whom is still at large, Anadolu said.
The PKK is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. More than 40,000 people have died in conflict since the militant group launched its insurgency in 1984.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)