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Turkey trial to open into Russian ambassador's 2016 killing

AFP  |  Ankara 

Twenty eight suspects were due to go on trial Tuesday over the of the Russian two years ago, including a US-based Muslim blamed by for a failed coup the same year.

Andrei Karlov, 62, was shot dead by an off-duty Turkish at a photo exhibition in on December 19, 2016, in a shock attack that was captured on camera by photographers attending the event.

The 22-year-old gunman, Mevlut Mert Altintas, shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) and "Don't forget Aleppo", vowing that those responsible for events in would be held accountable.

Altintas was killed shortly after by members of the Turkish special forces. The has charged 16 of the suspects with "premeditated murder with the intention of causing terror", according to the indictment. The other 12 were charged with "being a member of a terror organisation".

Thirteen are currently in pre-trial detention, while it is prosecuting others in absentia.

Those not in include Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Islamic seen as an arch foe of and who Ankara blames for the July 2016 coup attempt.

has denied links to both the failed coup and the murder. Turkish officials have alleged that Gulen's movement organised the murder of Karlov, a married father-of-one, to sow "chaos".

refers to the organisation as the "Fetullah Terrorist Organisation" (FETO) but followers say it is peaceful, promoting secular education.

Another of the suspects named is Serif Ali Tekalan, who headed a university linked to in and now heads the Texas-based (NAU).

The is seeking a variety of penalties for the suspects, including aggravated life sentences, which have replaced the death penalty in and carry harsher conditions than normal life imprisonment convictions.

The indictment says the movement plotted the murder of Karlov, who had been appointed as in 2013, to "break off bilateral relations" between Turkey and and bring them to the brink of "hot war".

The Kremlin had previously warned against rushing to any assumptions.

Although does not repeat the Gulen claims, Selim Koru, a Black Sea Fellow at the think tank noted in a report late last year that sent investigators and "if they had different findings, they didn't say".

Turkey and had a dramatic falling out in November 2015 after a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian warplane along the Syrian border.

But by the summer of 2016 relations had improved, with Russian and Erdogan keen to show they are working together to find a solution to the Syrian conflict despite being on opposing sides of the war.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested over alleged links to Gulen since 2016 in a crackdown criticised by human rights groups and Ankara's Western allies.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, January 08 2019. 13:05 IST