Sat, Apr 22, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Militant's lawyer says Bigley died based on `Shariah'

CONSOLATION?Lawyer Osman Karahan said his client was making the declaration because he wanted Kenneth Bigley's family `not to be too sad'

AP , ISTANBUL

A militant on trial in Turkey presided over an informal court that sentenced British engineer Kenneth Bigley to death by beheading, and knows where his decapitated body is, the militant's lawyer said on Thursday.

Lawyer Osman Karahan said Bigley's death sentence was based on Islamic law.

"According to Shariah, according to Islamic law, they sentenced him to death," Karahan said.

"He was guilty of helping non-believers in invading Muslim lands and providing all kinds of support, technical logistical support. Isn't that true?" he said.

Karahan said his client, Loa'i Mohammed Haj Bakr al-Saqa, was publicly declaring his role as head of the informal court now because he wanted Bigley's family "not to be too sad, because it was the decision of the court. He was executed according to the decision of the court and Islamic law."

Karahan said his client knew where Bigley's body was and said it would be announced at a press conference today. He did not say where the press conference would be held, or at what time.

Karahan is a devout Muslim who represents several al-Qaeda suspects and has been known to recite lengthy passages from the Koran in court.

He himself has been charged with aiding and abetting a terrorist organization for allegedly giving money to one of his clients and a judge ordered him off al-Saqa's case for a year.

Asked whether al-Saqa killed Bigley himself, Karahan said it didn't matter.

"It doesn't matter. He was the head of the court. `It's my responsibility,'" he says.

Al-Saqa, a Turkish-speaking Syrian, is known for wild outbursts and for his unrepentant advocacy of violence in what he calls a holy war against non-Muslims.

He is standing trial in Turkey for his alleged role in the 2003 bombings of two synagogues, a British bank and the British Consulate-General in Istanbul that killed 58 people. Turkish prosecutors have called al-Saqa a "high-level al-Qaeda official."

At a court session in late March, al-Saqa refused to recognize the court's authority and was escorted from the courtroom screaming that he had fought a jihad and killed Americans.

Al-Saqa was captured in August after an accidental explosion led police to his house on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, from where he is alleged to have been plotting to blow up cruise ships carrying Israelis.

He is also suspected of being involved in the killing of a Turkish truck driver, and is accused of smuggling explosives into Turkey.

Bigley was beheaded in 2004 while working as an engineer in Iraq.

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