A Turkish court has sentenced a gunman to life in prison without parole for carrying out a deadly attack on an Istanbul nightclub in 2017 that left 39 people dead and dozens injured.
Istanbul’s Heavy Penal Court No. 27 handed Abdulkadir Masharipov forty aggravated life sentences on Monday, 7 September.
Masharipov, an Uzbek national, was also sentenced to 1,368 years in prison for the attempted murder of 79 people and for carrying a weapon without a licence.
His accomplice, Ilyas Mamasaripov, was sentenced to 1,432 years in jail for helping to plan the terror attack in Ortaköy.
Among the fatalities from the shooting were 27 foreigners and a police officer.
A further 24 defendants were sentenced to jail for being members of a terrorist organisation, with terms ranging between six and 13 years. Eleven others were acquitted.
The sentences follow a three-year trial over the massacre at high-end Reina nightclub, now permanently closed. The club was located in the heart of the city underneath the First Bosphorus Bridge.
The glamorous club was popular with the city’s well-heeled and tourists alike, and some 600 people were inside Reina to see in the New Year on that fateful night.
Masharipov had arrived at the club by taxi at around 1.17am local time.
Using CCTV, police tracked the killer’s movements as he got into a taxi at 11:58 pm in the Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul and headed to Ortaköy.
A few minutes away from Reina, the gunman got out of the taxi due to heavy traffic, taking his bag from the trunk of the car and walked the remaining distance to the club.
Masharipov killed the door staff before rushing through the entrance, taking aim at revellers with an automatic rifle.
He threw two hand grenades, while continuing to fire indiscriminately into the crowd as he walked through the club shouting “Allahu Ekber” (God is the greatest), leaving bodies strewn across the bar and dance floor. Those clubbers furthest back jumped into the Bosphorus to escape.
The attack lasted just seven minutes, during which time Masharipov had fired 180 bullets from his Kalashnikov.
The gunman then took off his coat and slipped out of the club during the ensuing chaos, escaping into the city while dozens lay dead or injured.
Masharipov was detained by police on 17 January 2017 after a massive manhunt. He said at the time that he was acting on behalf of Daesh (ISIS), which also claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was revenge for Turkey’s military involvement against them in Syria.
Masharipov later withdrew his admission of guilt, claiming his initial testimony was taken under duress and that he had been tortured to give it. He disputed the evidence against him, arguing that he was not the person seen on CCTV holding an assault rifle in the club.
He had asked the court to acquit him due to “insufficient evidence”. He is expected to appeal his conviction.