ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) — A Turkish court on Monday sentenced an Islamic State group suspect to life in prison over the New Year’s Eve attack on a nightclub in Istanbul that left 39 people dead in 2017.
The suspect, Albulkadir Masharipov of Uzbekistan, was convicted of 39 counts of murder and one count of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order. He was handed down 40 separate life sentences without parole. The court also sentenced him to a total of 1,368 years for the attempted murder of 79 people who escaped the attack with injuries.
Early on Jan. 1, 2017, an assailant shot his way into Istanbul’s Reina nightclub where hundreds were partying to celebrate the New Year. The assailant escaped from the scene and the Islamic State group later claimed the massacre.
Several revelers jumped into the waters of the Bosporus to escape the attack. Most of the dead were foreigners.
Police arrested Masharipov in a police raid 15 days after the attack.
Masharipov initially admitted that he had carried out the attack but later denied the charges against him, the state-run Anadolu reported.
In his final words of defense on Monday, Masharipov asked that he be acquitted, saying his initial testimonies were taken under “torture and pressure." He insisted there was insufficient evidence against him, Anadolu said.
He is expected to appeal his conviction.
Turkey was hit by a string of attacks since 2015 by Kurdish militants and IS. More than 300 people were killed.