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Lawyer defends right to ‘holy war’
From correspondents in Istanbul

Herald Sun

THE lawyer for several suspects accused of terrorist attacks in Istanbul that killed 63 people has defended a Muslim’s right to wage a holy war in closing arguments before an Istanbul court.
“Is it possible to judge people who have nothing to do with the facts of the case just because they praise holy war?” Osman Karahan, lawyer for a dozen or so of the accused, asked today.

“If we open this door, tomorrow we will be judging those who fast or those who pray,” Mr Karahan said.

The lawyer also evoked the “invasion of Muslim countries” such as Bosnia , Iraq and Palestine , in making his point to the panel of secular judges.

“After Damascus , it will be Istanbul ‘s turn, with the same massacres as in Bosnia ,” said Mr Karahan, who went on to add that holy war was an obligation for every Muslim.

Following Mr Karahan’s arguments, several other lawyers pleaded their clients’ innocence, saying they were being judged not for the November 2003 attacks in Istanbul but for participating in military training in Afghanistan or the struggle against Russian troops in Chechnya .

The suicide car-bomb attacks in Turkey ‘s economic capital targeted two Istanbul synagogues, the British consulate and a branch of the British bank HSBC.

Aside from the 63 killed, more than 750 people were wounded.

Of 71 people charged with the attacks, only 29 are in jail.

The public prosecutor has called for life imprisonment for four of the accused and jail terms of 22 years for 36 others. He recommended that 31 others be acquitted.

Several of the defendants’ lawyers have asked for the trial to be deferred to give them more time to prepare closing arguments.