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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hijackers of Turkish Ferry Indicted in Istanbul

ISTANBUL -- Six Turks, two Chechens and an Abkhazian were indicted Thursday for hijacking a ferry and holding some 200 people hostage last month.


The defendants were being kept in a high-security prison in Istanbul following the court's decision. No date was immediately set for start of trial. If convicted they face a minimum of nine years in prison.


The hijacking began on Jan. 16 just before the ferry was to sail from Turkey to the Russian port of Sochi and ended three days later.


The hijackers were protesting Moscow's attempt to crush a rebellion by Chechen separatists.


They diverted the ship toward Istanbul but Turkish authorities did not allow the ship into the Bosporus Strait and negotiated a peaceful end, capturing the hijackers.


Ethem Baykan, a lawyer for the hijackers, told reporters after the court's closed-door session that his clients refused to answer questions and would just say that their action was for the "independence of Chechnya."