Convicted Terrorists Get Death, Life Imprisonment For Murders
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ A military court convicted 14 people Tuesday in connection with a string of political murders and handed down sentences ranging from the death penalty to life in prison.
Five defendants were sentenced to death and the others received life imprisonment.
Also Tuesday, Alparslan Turkes, leader of the defunct right-wing National Movement Party, was given 11 years for his alleged organization of armed gangs to engage in political murders.
Turkes also was indicted on charges of personally ordering the murders of a leftist police chief and a labor union leader, but the judge, Col. Vural Ozenirler, said there was insufficient evidence to convict him on those charges.
Two hundred twenty-six defendants charged with lesser crimes received sentences ranging from a few months to 24 years in prison, and 157 defendants were acquitted. The trial began six years ago.
All the defendants were accused of being members of either the National Movement Party or its youth branch, the Gray Wolves.
The Gray Wolves were held largely responsible for terrorism that claimed 5,000 lives from 1978 to 1980 and prompted a military takeover in 1980.
Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II in 1981, is accused of belonging to the Gray Wolves, as are three of the four Turks tried in Italy as suspected accomplices in a plot to kill the pope. The three were acquitted.
Since the military takeover, 38 convicted terrorists have been put to death in Turkey.
There have been no executions since the summer of 1984. The Parliament, elected in November 1983 general elections that restored civilian rule, has not given the needed approval for any more hangings.
Turkes, 70, was arrested after the military takeover and released in 1985 after spending 4 years and 7 months in prison.
Prosecutor Tekin Karacoban said Turkes may be eligible for parole and not have to serve out his sentence.
The National Movement Party was Turkey’s fourth-largest political party, and Turkes served as deputy premier under former Premier Suleyman Demirel.