ISTANBUL – A Turkish court has accepted an indictment against 57 suspects allegedly involved in the deadly New Year's nightclub attack in Istanbul, Turkey's official news agency reported Wednesday. The first hearing is to take place in December.
Anadolu news agency said the main suspect, Abdulkadir Masharipov, an Uzbek citizen who was caught two weeks after the attack, could face 40 consecutive life sentences if convicted on charges of attempting to overthrow Turkey's constitutional order and killing 39 people.
Turkish media have reported that Masharipov confessed to the shooting and told his interrogators that he had received orders from Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State group in Syria.
Masharipov also faces charges of membership in a terror group, attempted murder of 79 people injured in the attack and violating Turkey's firearms law. These charges can carry a maximum total of 2,397 years in prison.
The 90-page indictment charges four other suspects allegedly involved in the planning of the attack, including Masharipov's wife, with the same crimes except the firearms violation.
It is not unusual for Turkish prosecutors to demand multiple life sentences in cases of lethal violence.
The other 52 suspects will be tried on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, carrying a sentence of life in prison, and membership in a terror group, with a sentence of 7.5 to 15 years.
Anadolu said the first hearing will take place on Dec. 11 in the courthouse of high-security Silivri prison and continue until Dec. 15.
Fifty-one of the 57 suspects are behind bars pending trial.
IS claimed responsibility for the shooting in the upscale Reina nightclub, where hundreds of people had gathered to celebrate the New Year. Twenty-five of the victims were foreigners, many from Arab countries in the Middle East.
Turkey has been hit by a series of attacks blamed on IS and Kurdish militants since the summer of 2015, killing more than 550 people.
The indictment referred to 22 attacks by IS, according to Anadolu. The nightclub shooting, however, is the only mass attack the extremist group has claimed.