Turkey sentences five to life in prison over 2016 Russian envoy murder

A Turkish court on Tuesday sentenced five people to life in jail over the murder of the Russian ambassador in Ankara, Andrei Karlov, in 2016, state-run TRT reported.

Karlov was shot dead by an off-duty police officer while speaking at a photo exhibition opening in Ankara on Dec 19, 2016.

Twenty-two year old Mevlüt Mert Mertaş shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo!”before opening fire, in an apparent reference to Moscow’s involvement in the Syrian war.

Karlov was pronounced dead on the scene and Altıntaş was killed by Turkish security forces that day.

The Ankara court handed down two life sentences without parole to three of the convicted in the case, while the two others received one life sentence each, also without parole, TRT said. 

Turkish prosecutors had pressed charges against 28 people over Karlov’s assassination, including Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen, who leads the outlawed Gülen movement accused of orchestrating the July 2916 coup attempt, from self-imposed exile in the United States.

Ankara maintains the Gülen movement was behind the assassination, a claim Gülen denies. 

The Ankara court ruled to separate the cases of nine fugitive suspects in the case, including Gülen, TRT said.

Six of the suspects were acquitted on all charges while the remaining seven suspects in the case received between 15 to four years in prison on membership in a terrorist group, it reported.