World Bulletin/News Desk
Pınar Selek, a sociologist and author suspected of helping to bomb İstanbul's Spice Bazaar in 1998, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the İstanbul 12th High Criminal Court on Thursday.
Selek, whose case has continued for over 14 years, was acquitted for the third time on Feb. 9, 2011, by the İstanbul 12th High Criminal Court, but this decision was overturned by the 9th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals in late 2012.
Her retrial began in December. A prosecutor spearheading the investigation last year into the deadly explosion at the Spice Bazaar demanded life imprisonment for Selek.
The court's ruling came at a time when Selek's trial has attracted attention in Europe.
The İstanbul court also issued an arrest warrant for Selek, who has stayed out of Turkey to evade the legal process.
Selek, who maintains her innocence, was acquitted of the charges in 2006, 2007 and 2011. But those verdicts were overturned by appeals courts that ordered new trials. The case has been complicated by contradictory reports about whether the deadly explosion was caused by a bomb or a gas leak.
Now living in Germany, Selek has been accused of aiding and abetting Kurdish militants who allegedly planted a bomb that caused the explosion in which seven people were killed and more than 120 were wounded.
On Thursday, a three judge court ruled 2-to-1 to convict Selek, sentencing her to life imprisonment and issued a warrant for her arrest.
Her lawyer, Yasemin Öz, said the defendant will appeal the ruling.
Speaking on Turkish TV from her home, a tearful Selek said, “Despite the ordeal, I am hopeful.” She said she believes that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) based in Strasbourg will review her case as soon the proceedings in Turkey are concluded.
“It is as if I have received a death notice,” she added.
On Thursday, a group of protestors gathered in İstanbul's Beyoğlu district to demand the court ruling against Selek be overturned. The protestors, most of whom were women, carried a banner saying “We want Selek's acquittal back.”
Making a statement on behalf of the group, Selek's lawyer Öz said: “We know that Selek is innocent. No court can connect Selek with the bombing in the Spice Bazaar. This [trial] has not ended. We will go to the Supreme Court of Appeals and reclaim her acquittal.”Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2013, 16:41