A Turkish prosecutor has demanded 40 life sentences for Uzbek national Abdulkadir Maasharipov, the main suspect in the case of the mass shooting that killed 39 and injured 79 people in Istanbul’s Reina nightclub on New Year’s Eve of 2017, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Monday.
The Reina shooting is widely believed to be part of a series of attacks carried out in Turkey by ISIS.
Maasharipov, facing charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and 39 counts of willful homicide, had confessed to the attack during his arrest in 2017, but later repudiated his statements in court.
The prosecutor demanded another 1,500 years in prison for Maasharipov for 79 counts of attempted murder, and violation of the firearms act.
Another suspect Ilyas Mamasharipov was charged with aiding and abetting the crimes, with the prosecutor demanding 632 years in prison for him.
The prosecutor demanded 7.5 to 15 years in prison for Maasharipov’s wives Zarina Nurullayeva and Tene Traore, along with 46 other suspects, for membership to an armed terrorist organisation.
A taxi driver testified in court that Maasharipov looked similar to the man who got in his cab, to which the suspect’s lawyers objected, accusing the court of influencing the witness.
The lawyers said the true perpetrators had walked away, and could still carry out terrorist attacks.
Another taxi driver identified Maasharipov and said he drove the suspect to Istanbul’s working class neighbourhood of Zeytinburnu.
Maasharipov maintained that he had not been in the vicinity on the night of the attack, and that he had not learned to speak Turkish at the time. “I learned in prison,” he said.
The prosecutor called for acquittal on lack of evidence for 11 suspects, and partial acquittal for charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order for 47 suspects except Maasharipov and Mamasharipov.
The court ordered the release of Mohammad Aboul Hasan, while ruling for the continuation of arrest for 18 suspects.
The next hearing will be held on March 23, when the court is expected to issue a final verdict.