Pro-Chechen Turk Gunmen Face up to 26 Years Jail
Pro-Chechen Turkish militants who took guests and staff hostage at a five-star Istanbul hotel last month in protest at Russian activities in Chechnya could face up to 26 years in prison if convicted, reported the Turkish Daily News on Wednesday.
The Istanbul state court prosecutor, Muzaffer Yalcin, had demanded a 26-year jail term for each of the two gunmen who led the hostage-taking, Muhammed Emin Tokcan and Emin Tastan.
The two are on trial charged with "forming and leading an armed gang", "carrying deadly weapons" as well as "causing panic by opening fire into the air," the paper said.
A group of 13 militants armed with automatic rifles raided the Swissotel overlooking Istanbul's Bosphorus Strait on April 22 in what they was a protest against heavy-handed Russian tactics in its breakaway province of Chechnya.
Their protest ended peacefully 12 hours later when they released 120 staff members and guests and handed themselves over to security forces.
The paper said that the prosecutor demanded prison terms ranging from a minimum of nine and a half years to a maximum of 19 years for each of the other 11 gunmen on lesser charges.
All the suspects are being kept in a high security Istanbul jail.
Their leader, Tokcan, had been imprisoned for heading another pro-Chechen group that hijacked a Black Sea Ferry in 1996 with 200 people on board.
He was released from jail last year as part of a general amnesty – Albawaba.com
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