On 4th try, Turkish courts convict alleged bomber

AP News
Posted: Jan 24, 2013 2:07 PM

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — After being acquitted three times by Turkey's judicial system, a woman was found guilty on Thursday of involvement in a deadly 1998 bombing by Kurdish rebels and sentenced to life in prison.

Pinar Selek, a 41-year-old Turkish sociologist now living in France, was accused of aiding and abetting the rebels and planting a bomb in Istanbul's 17th-century spice market that killed seven people and wounded more than 120.

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.

On Thursday, a court with three judges ruled 2-to-1 to convict Selek, sentenced her to a life term, and issued a warrant for her arrest.

Her lawyer, Yasemin Oz, said the defendant will appeal the guilty verdict.

Speaking from her home in Strasbourg, France, on Turkish TV, a tearful Selek said: "Despite the ordeal, I am hopeful." She said she believes the European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, will review her case as soon the proceedings in Turkey are concluded.

In its ruling Thursday, the court also confirmed a previous acquittal of a man being tried alongside Selek on the same charges, Oz said.

Human rights groups say the long-running case against Selek has exposed flaws in Turkey's legal system, which allows people to be repeatedly tried for the same crime.

Selek spent two years in jail before leaving Turkey, claiming she had been tortured as a prisoner.

The rebels she was convicted of helping, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and its U.S. and European Union allies. Since the 1980s, tens of thousands of lives have been lost in the rebels' struggle for independence for Turkey's Kurdish minority.