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Turkey jails four over bombing that killed German tourists

A child stands on January 14, 2016 in front of a makeshift memorial with flowers, candles in tribute to victims at the site of the January 12 deadly attack in the Istanbul's tourist hub of Sultanahmet. OZAN KOSE / AFP

A Turkish court on Tuesday sentenced four men to life in jail over a 2016 suicide bombing in the heart of İstanbul that killed 12 German tourists and was blamed on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, Agence France-Presse reported.

The blast ripped through İstanbul’s historic Sultanahmet square in January 2016 — near the iconic Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, among the world’s most visited tourist sites.

The government blamed the attack that wounded 16 others on the ISIL group but the militants never claimed responsibility and the defendants have denied their involvement.

The court in İstanbul sentenced four suspects — whose nationality was not stated — to life in jail, saying that the attack represented “an attempt to violently overthrow the constitutional order,” the private DHA news agency reported.

Each was also sentenced to 328 years and four months in prison for premeditated murder, the news agency said.

Eighteen other suspects were acquitted, it said.

In 2018, Turkish judges sentenced three Syrian nationals to life in prison for their involvement in the bombing but an appeals court overturned that verdict for several reasons, including that the sentences were deemed too lenient.

Turkey was shaken by a spate of attacks in 2016 blamed on the ISIL and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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