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9 Charged in Turkish Suicide Bombings

Citing a 'war between justice and cruelty,' the premier urges citizens to resist terrorism.

November 25, 2003|From Associated Press

ISTANBUL, Turkey — A Turkish court today charged nine suspected accomplices in last week's Istanbul suicide bombings, alleging that eight were members of an illegal organization and one aided and abetted an illegal organization, defense lawyer Selahattin Karahan said.

The suspects covered their heads with jackets and coats as they arrived at the court Monday. A police line held back a crowd of their shouting relatives, including several women wearing black chadors, the all-covering garment rare in downtown Istanbul.

No trial date was set on the charges, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Karahan said three other suspects were released and four had been released Monday, apparently for lack of evidence.

The charges came five days after the bombings of the British Consulate and a London-based bank in Istanbul. Fifty-three people were killed in those attacks and the earlier bombings of two synagogues in the Turkish capital.

On Wednesday, authorities arrested six people in connection with the synagogue bombings. A court charged five with "attempting to overthrow the constitutional structure," a crime that carries a life sentence. The sixth was charged with "helping illegal organizations," punishable by five years in prison.

On Monday, Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler said authorities were making progress in the investigation and had used DNA samples to identify the man who rammed an explosives-packed pickup truck into the consulate.

Guler would not name the man, but the Istanbul newspaper Milliyet defied government reporting restrictions and identified him as Feridun Ugurlu, a Turk believed to have fought with Islamic radicals in Afghanistan and Russia's breakaway republic, Chechnya. Turkish media reports have said police have tentatively identified the other suicide bomber as Azad Ekinci.

Turkish media said both bombers in Thursday's attacks were militants previously reported to be accomplices of the suicide bombers in the Nov. 15 attacks on the synagogues.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a televised national address on the eve of the religious holiday ending the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, appealed to Turks to resist terrorism.

"This is a war between justice and cruelty, good and bad, and true and false. It is our right to expect every sensible person to stand by justice, good and truth in this war," Erdogan said.

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