Turkey, assassination of Russian ambassador to Ankara in 2016

Russia praises sentence in Turkey against murderers of its ambassador

In 2016, months after the failed coup in Turkey, the Russian ambassador to Ankara was shot dead by a policeman linked to Gülen.

The Russian government has expressed its “satisfaction” at the sentence issued yesterday by a Turkish court sentencing 5 defendants to aggravated life imprisonment related to the 2016 murder of the Russian ambassador to Ankara, Andrei Karlov, a crime that the Turkish government has always linked to the criminal organization led by Fethullah Gülen (FETÖ), which that same year orchestrated a failed coup that left 251 dead and 2,000 wounded.

In a statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the “Turkish judicial system for firmly condemning this terrorist act,” while noting that Moscow “continues to believe that much of the responsibility for the crime falls on certain groups that, on the eve of the murder of Karlov, artificially stirred sentiments in media and social networks against Russia and Syria.

In addition to the 5 convicted, seven other defendants received different sentences for belonging to a terrorist organization, while six more were finally acquitted. All of them were suspected of having links to Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, the 22-year-old man who murdered Karlov during the opening of a photographic exhibition in Ankara before being killed by special forces of the Turkish police.

The murderer fired 11 shots at the Russian ambassador

The 5 sentenced to life imprisonment are Şahin Söğüt, Salih Yılmaz and Ahmet Kılınçarslan, all of them important members of the FETÖ network and whom the court found guilty of the charges of violation of the constitutional order and murder for terrorist purposes. Each of them received two life sentences without possibility of parole.

It is believed that Yılmaz was the one who ordered Altıntaş – a police officer linked to FETÖ – to assassinate the ambassador with the aim of damaging relations between Turkey and Russia after the failure of the coup. The other two sentenced to life imprisonment are Hüseyin Kötüce and Vehbi Kürşad Akalain, who in addition to a life sentence without parole received 15 more years in prison for collaborating in the murder.

Andrei Karlov was assassinated on December 10, 2016 during the opening of an exhibition in the Turkish capital when Altıntaş, an off-duty police officer with ties to the Fethullah Gülen organisation, entered the scene and fired 11 shots at the Russian ambassador, making several proclamations about the Russian intervention in Syria. 15 minutes later the murderer was shot dead by police anti-terrorism squads, who had taken over the building.