ANKARA, Turkey – Prosecutors on Wednesday indicted 69 suspected Al Qaeda (search) militants accused in the Istanbul homicide bombings last year that killed scores of people.
Two of the suspects met with Usama bin Laden (search) in Afghanistan, NTV television reported, citing the indictment. Reporters from NTV and other Turkish media organizations were briefed by a prosecutor on the indictment, which is expected to be released in the coming days.
The prosecutors demanded life imprisonment for five of the suspects and sentences of 41/2 to 221/2 years for the remaining 64, the Anatolia news agency reported. No trial date has been set.
Nine other suspects -- including suspected ringleaders Habip Aktas, Gurcan Bac and Azad Ekinci -- are at large and were not immediately charged, Anatolia reported. The nine are believed to be hiding abroad and could be tried in absentia.
Authorities have blamed the attacks -- on Nov. 15 against two synagogues and on Nov. 20 against a London-based bank and the British Consulate -- on a Turkish cell of Al Qaeda.
Sixty-three people were killed and about 700 wounded in the attacks, carried out by four homicide bombers who rammed explosives-laden trucks into the targets.
After the arrests, authorities said they had dismantled the local Al Qaeda-linked cell.
The indictment said Aktas gave the order for the attacks, which were allegedly financed by Al Qaeda members in Europe and Iran, Anatolia reported.
Prosecutors demanded life sentences for Harun Ilhan, Adnan Ersoz, Fevzi Yitik, Osman Eken and Yusuf Polat, who are charged with "attempting to change Turkey's constitutional order through the use of force."
The charge is similar to treason and was punishable by death until Turkey abolished that penalty in 2002 to help its bid for membership in the European Union.
The other suspects were charged with membership in an illegal group and abetting terrorists.
NTV said prosecutors claim Aktas got permission for the attacks in a meeting with Abu Mohammed al-Masri, wanted in connection with the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998. Prosecutors also say some of the suspects received military training in camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In particular, Ersoz and another indicted suspect, Baki Yigit, met with bin Laden in Kandahar, Afghanistan, NTV television said.
The militants also planned to attack an air base used by U.S. forces in the southeastern town of Incirlik and an Israeli passenger ship in the Mediterranean resort of Alanya, NTV said. Intelligence officials say the militants changed their targets after being stymied by high security at Incirlik.