[JURIST] A Turkish court sentenced the conspirators of the 2003 Istanbul bombings [BBC report; JURIST news archive] Friday, handing down seven life sentences. In addition, 41 of the 74 defendants received prison sentences ranging from four to 18 years; the remaining 26 defendants were acquitted. The bombings, which targeted two synagogues, the British consulate [official website], and the Turkish headquarters of London-based HSBC Bank [corporate website], killed 54 people and injured hundreds more.
Many of the convicted conspirators were defiant during their sentencing. The mastermind of the bombing, Syrian Loa'i Mohammad Haj Bakr al-Saqa [BBC report], called on others to continue fighting. Harun Ilhan, who took responsibility for carrying out the attacks, called for the establishment of an Islamic Turkish state. While Turkey has Muslim roots, its government and military are secular. In his closing statements, Ilhan said true Islam is not practiced in Turkey and invited the Turkish people to convert to his form of the religion. Both al-Saqa and Ilhan were among the seven receiving life sentences. AP has more.