New Zealand at OIC summit: Mosque gunman faces life prison in isolation

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New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters speaks during a press conference following an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, on March 22, 2019, to discuss the March 15 deadly attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. (AFP)
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New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters speaks during a press conference following an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, on March 22, 2019. (AFP)
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OIC Secretary-General Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen speaks during a press conference following an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, on March 22, 2019, to discuss the March 15 deadly attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. (AFP)
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) poses for a group photo alongside New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters (2nd R), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen (2nd L), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) and other delegates during an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, on March 22, 2019, to discuss the March 15 deadly attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2019
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New Zealand at OIC summit: Mosque gunman faces life prison in isolation

  • The OIC, in a declaration, urged all countries to refrain from statements and policies that associate Islam with terror and extremism
  • It also demanded that March 15 — the day of the Christchurch attack — be marked as the International Day of Solidarity Against Islamophobia

ISTANBUL: New Zealand's deputy prime minister said the gunman accused of killing 50 people in two mosques in the South Pacific nation would spend the rest of his life in isolation in prison and called for solidarity to eradicate "hate-filled ideologies."
Winston Peters was speaking at an emergency session of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation's executive committee called by Turkey to combat prejudice against Muslims in the wake of the attack.
Peters' attendance comes amid controversy sparked by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who, at election campaign rallies, has been screening video clips of the attack, despite efforts by New Zealand to prevent the video's spread. Erdogan also drew Australia's ire for comments suggesting that Australians and New Zealanders with anti-Muslim sentiments would be sent back in coffins like their ancestors who fought against Turks in the World War I Battle of Gallipoli.
Peters took a conciliatory tone on Friday, welcoming comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said at a news conference at the end of the OIC meeting, that Australians and New Zealanders visiting Turkey would be greeted at Gallipoli remembrance ceremonies next month with the same welcoming hospitality "as they always were."
Peters said: "We are returning home to New Zealand with a grateful assurance that our people will come here to commemorate Anzac and will be as welcome as they always were."
Peters said, however, that he didn't discuss Erdogan's use of the footage with Turkey's foreign minister or president though it was widely expected that he'd raise the issue.
"I did not see any sound, peaceful purposes in raising it," Peters said, adding that they had received "very assuring information" from the Turkish presidency.
Speaking at the emergency session, Peters told representatives of Muslim nations: "no punishment can match the depravity of his crime but the families of the fallen will have justice." He also screened moving photographs of New Zealanders mourning the victims.  
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, was arrested and charged with murder. Tarrant livestreamed the attack and released a manifesto describing his white supremacist views and how he planned the shootings.
The OIC, in a declaration, urged all countries to refrain from statements and policies that associate Islam with terror and extremism. It also demanded that March 15 — the day of the Christchurch attack — be marked as the International Day of Solidarity Against Islamophobia.
Addressing the OIC meeting Friday, Erdogan praised New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, saying her "reaction, the empathy displayed and her solidarity with Muslims" should serve as an example to all leaders.
Erdogan slammed populist politicians who he said encouraged attacks on Muslims and refugees.
"Politicians who pave themselves the road to power by alienating Muslims and creating enemies out of refugees, must pull themselves together."
He also called for neo-Nazi groups to be considered terrorists.
He said: "If we don't show our reaction in a strong manner, the neo-Nazi virus will engulf the body even more. If we don't raise our voices, Western governments will not disrupt their comfort."  


Verdict expected in mass Turkey trial of ‘coup ringleaders’

Updated 27 min 46 sec ago
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Verdict expected in mass Turkey trial of ‘coup ringleaders’

  • The suspects also each face 55,880 years in jail on the charge of injuring 2,558 civilians and 177 security personnel
  • Nearly 290 coup-linked court cases have been launched, 261 of which ended with 3,239 defendants convicted

ANKARA: A Turkish court is set to hand down verdicts Thursday to more than 220 suspects in one of the biggest trials relating to the 2016 failed overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The trial of 224 suspects including more than two dozen former generals began in May 2017 in the country's largest courtroom inside a prison complex in Sincan, Ankara.
The space was purpose-built to hear coup-related trials and has room for 1,558 people.
Among the suspects is US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey accuses of ordering the attempted putsch which left hundreds dead and thousands more injured.
Gulen strongly denies the claims. Turkey has failed to secure his extradition.
The charges against the main suspects include "violating the constitution", "using coercion and violence in an attempt to overthrow" parliament and the Turkish government, "martyring 250 citizens" and "attempting to kill 2,735 citizens".
The prosecutor last month sought 252 aggravated - without parole - life sentences against nearly 40 suspects, local media reported. Such sentences carry harsher prison conditions.
The suspects also each face 55,880 years in jail on the charge of injuring 2,558 civilians and 177 security personnel, state news agency Anadolu reported.
Since July 2016, tens of thousands of people have been arrested over alleged links to the coup under a two-year state of emergency which ended last year.
But nationwide raids by police have continued and there are almost daily reports of public prosecutors issuing detention warrants for suspects over Gulen ties.
Nearly 290 coup-linked court cases have been launched, 261 of which ended with 3,239 defendants convicted, according to justice ministry figures.
Twenty-six generals are among those on trial, including former air force chief Akin Ozturk and Mehmet Disli, the brother of former ruling party lawmaker Saban Disli, who since September has served as Turkey's ambassador to the Netherlands.
Another suspect is colonel Ali Yazici, Erdogan's former military aide, as well as Lieutenant Colonel Levent Turkkan, who was the aide to then Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar. Akar was appointed defence minister in July 2018.
Of the suspects, 176 are in jail while 35 have been freed pending trial and 13 suspects including Gulen are still sought for arrest, according to Anadolu.
The prosecutor in May requested 12 unnamed suspects be acquitted and that the case of the 13 fugitives be separated from the main coup ringleaders' trial.
Dozens of those on trial are accused of being members of the "Peace At Home Council", the name the plotters apparently gave themselves on the night of the coup attempt.
The failed overthrow left 248 people dead, according to the Turkish presidency, not including 24 coup-plotters killed on the night.
Last month during a hearing, Ozturk told the court that claims he was a member of the council and a senior figure in the Gulen movement were "lies".
"For 34 months, I have tried to prove my innocence," Ozturk said. Many of the suspects during the two years of hearings have denied any links to Gulen or the coup.