Turkey sentences five to life prison for Russian Ambassador’s assassination

Turkey has sentenced five men to life imprisonment for the 2016 murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey

Turkey has sentenced five men to life imprisonment for the 2016 murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey. Andrei Karlov, was assassinated by a Turkish police officer named Mevlut Mert Altintas at an art exhibition in Turkey on 19 December 2016. The Turkish gunman justified the assassination as revenge for the Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War.

The assassination occurred during a polarized and enflamed atmosphere in Turkey. A Few days before the murder, Turkey witnessed demonstrations over the Russian involvement in the war in Aleppo , demanding a ceasefire.  Russia and turkey met in order to put an end to the Syrian situation. In Moscow, Turkey, Russia and Iran decided to hold a meeting to negotiate a settlement to the Syrian civil war.

Altintas, a 22-year-old police officer, shot dead the ambassador from behind during his speech at the exhibition. The gunman shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest) and also referred to the Syrian situation “Don’t forget Aleppo”. Later, the gunman was killed by Turkish special forces.

Turkish President, Ragab Tayeb Erdugan, stated that the incident aimed to sabotagee Russo-Turkish relations. President Vladamir Putin stated that the murder is “undoubtedly a provocation aimed at disrupting the normalization of bilateral ties and the peace process in Syria”. Putin also ordered an increase in security measures at Russian embassies worldwide and expressed his wish to know who guided and helped the gunman.

Turkish authorities started investigating the crime, and arrested and held Altintas’s family members for a day. The Russian Foreign Ministry also confirmed that a Russian investigation team would arrive in Turkey to assist with the investigation. Nevertheless, Turkey accused Altintas of being a part of the “Gulen Movement”, a transnational socially conscious Islamic movement inspired by the writings and preaching of a Turkish Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen based in the US since 1999. Turkey also blames Gulen for the 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey.

As part of the investigation, Turkish prosecutors trialed 28 suspects including Gulen. It charged 16 of them for premediated murder with the intention of causing terror and charged the other 12 of being members of terrorist organizations. However, the suspects denied all   charges directed against them, including Gulen who denied inciting Altinas for the murder as well as the 2016 failed coup attempt.

The court of Ankara sentenced three of the defendants to two separate life terms and another two for one life term for being part of a terrorist organization, according to Anadolou Agency.

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