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Uzbek National Set To Go On Trial For Istanbul Nightclub Massacre

A combo photo of Uzbek national Abdulkadir Masharipov, the suspected gunman who killed 39 people in a mass shooting at an Istanbul nightclub on January 1, 2017.

Istanbul nightclub massacre suspect Abdulkadir Masharipov is set to go on trial for the gun-and-grenade attack that killed 39 people early on January 1, 2017, which was claimed by the extremist group Islamic State (IS).

Masharipov, a citizen of Uzbekistan, faces up to 40 life sentences at the trial, which starts under tight security at Istanbul's Silivri prison complex on December 11. Turkish authorities say he has confessed.

The charges include “attempting to destroy constitutional order,” "membership of an armed terrorist organization,” and "murdering more than one person."

Masharipov is one of 57 suspects scheduled to go on trial starting on December 11 on charges related to the massacre and for being a part of a terrorist cell.

Among the defendants is Masharipov's wife, Zarina Nurullayeva, who is suspected of being an accomplice and could be hit with sentences similar to those facing her husband.

Masharipov was captured after a massive 17-day police hunt involving 2,000 officers, and experts say evidence he provided has helped Turkish authorities break up a major extremist network in Istanbul.

He is accused of shooting dead a security guard before charging inside a popular nightclub in the early hours of January 1, firing indiscriminately with his AK-47, and setting off grenades as terrified clubgoers scrambled for safety.

Prosecutors said Masharipov trained in Afghanistan and that he confessed to carrying out the attack after receiving orders from IS leaders in Raqqa, Syria, then the extremist group's main stronghold.

The indictment states the attack order was given by IS extremist Islam Atabiyev, a Syria-based Russian citizen also known as Abu Jihad.

IS, which has been blamed for numerous terror attacks -- including many in Europe -- has since been driven out of Raqqa and most of the rest of territory it formerly held in Syria and Iraq.

Based on reporting by AFP and Hurriyet

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