Turkish court hands down 53 life terms to 2013 bomber

People walk among the debris in the street below on May 12, 2013 after a car bomb explosion went off on May 11 in Reyhanli in Hatay, just a few kilometres from the main border crossing into Syria. (AFP Pic)

A Turkish court handed multiple life sentences Monday to a man convicted of a 2013 bombing that killed more than 50 people, which Turkey blames on Syria, local media reported.

Yusuf Nazik was convicted of helping to organise the May 2013 bombing in Reyhanli in southern Turkey, one of the deadliest in the country’s history.

An Ankara court gave him 53 aggravated life sentences, one for each of his victims plus one for ‘destroying the state’s unity and integrity’, DHA news agency reported.

Aggravated sentences, which replaced the death penalty in Turkey, carry harsher prison conditions.

Nazik, a Turkish citizen, was caught¬†last September by Turkey’s intelligence services in the Syrian city of Latakia, a stronghold of support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey, which has helped back the opposition against Assad, accused the Syrian government of responsibility for the attack, which it has denied.

At the time of his capture, Anadolu shared a video of Nazik giving what it described as a confession, in which he said he was behind the attack and that it had been ordered by Damascus.