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Turkey: Court Sentences 33 Islamists To Death

Ankara, 28 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Turkey's Anatolia news agency says a Turkish court today sentenced 33 Muslim activists to death for their part in an Islamist riot in 1993 in which 37 people died.

Judge Orhan Karadeniz told the court the death penalty has been given for trying to use force to break the constitutional order.

Turkey keeps the death sentence on the statute books but has not executed any convicts since the early 1980s. Death penalties are normally subsequently modified to life terms in jail.

The Islamists were found guilty three years ago of a role in an arson attack on a hotel during the riot in the central city of Sivas. But Turkey's appeals court ordered a new trial, saying many of the sentences of up to 15 years were too light.

Thirty-seven people, mostly members of a Muslim minority group, died in the attack.