Turkey convicts man over 1998 blast

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Istanbul - A Turkish court sentenced a sociologist on Thursday to life in prison for involvement in a deadly 1998 explosion after three previous acquittals, media reports said, in a case which has raised concerns about judicial process in Turkey.

Broadcaster CNN Turk said the court had issued an arrest warrant for Pinar Selek, who lives in France.

Selek had been charged with planting a bomb in Istanbul's Ottoman spice bazaar, which killed seven people and wounded more than 100 in July 1998.

Human Rights Watch has described the case as a “travesty of justice”, saying there was substantial evidence that the explosion had been due to an accidental gas leak.

Selek worked as a sociologist researching Kurdish issues in the mid-to-late 1990s and had contact with the outlawed militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

She was arrested in July 1998 at the age of 27 and released two and a half years later after a team of experts concluded the explosion had not been caused by a bomb but by the accidental ignition of a gas cylinder.

Despite these findings, the case against Selek continued and she was acquitted in 2006, 2008 and most recently in 2011. The prosecutor appealed each time and the appeals court ordered a retrial. - Reuters

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