Turkey Sentences Three to 1,000+ Years in Prison for Terrorism

President of Turkey and leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech during his party's parliamentary group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara, on October 30, 2019. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP) (Photo by …
ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images

An Istanbul court on Monday sentenced three Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists to over 1,000 years in prison each for allegedly perpetrating a 2016 terror attack that killed 12 people, including six police officers, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported on Tuesday.

Three senior PKK terrorists were sentenced on Monday for orchestrating a June 2016 bomb attack, targeting Turkish riot police transports in Istanbul’s Vezneci district.

“The attack was carried out using a rented car rigged to detonate with a remote control,” Breitbart News reported at the time.

The Turkish court heaped “about a dozen aggravated life sentences each” on Murat Bal, Gulsen Bahadir, and Eyup Sever for the “deliberate” killing of a dozen people, half police officers, in the attack and for “violating the [Turkish] constitution.”

In addition, all three men were “sentenced to 893 years in prison for intentionally killing and possessing dangerous goods without permission for their actions against 44 people injured in the Vezneci attack.”

Officially designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union (E.U.), the PKK is a separatist group aiming to establish a breakaway Kurdish state. In this pursuit, the militant group has carried out several terror attacks across Turkey for “more than 30 years,” and is responsible for the death of “nearly 40,000 people,” according to Turkish state media. Over the past decade, the PKK has largely targeted Turkish security forces, including police and soldiers, as seen in the June 2016 bombing.

The Turkish legal system notoriously metes out extremely long sentences to accused terrorists.

“An aggravated life sentence [in Turkey] has tougher terms of detention. It was brought in to replace the death penalty which Turkey abolished in 2004 as part of its drive to join the E.U.,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported last month when a court in Ankara sentenced 121 people to life in prison for their alleged involvement in a failed military coup to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016.

Erdoğan accuses U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen of ordering the failed coup, which the 78-year-old denies. Turkish prosecutors are reportedly seeking 3,600 life sentences for the elderly cleric. Turkish security forces have arrested “tens of thousands of people … over alleged links to Gülen,” in the years following the attempted coup, according to the report.

American pastor Andrew Brunson was among those that Turkish authorities tried to link to Gülen, and was arrested along with his wife in 2016. Brunson was then “accused of a host of crimes that 66 [U.S.] senators referred to in a letter to Erdoğan as ‘random character assassination’: military espionage, a plot to overthrow the government, support for terrorist organizations, and, perhaps most indicative of Erdoğan’s true objection to Brunson’s presence in his country, ‘Christianization’,” Breitbart News reported last fall.

Brunson was accused of supporting the PKK, among a slew of other alleged crimes.

In September 2017, Erdoğan attempted to use Brunson as a bargaining chip as he sought Gülen’s extradition from the U.S. Brunson was freed in October 2018 after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed strict sanctions on Turkey for violating the pastor’s human rights.

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