Turkish Court slaps life terms on 5 suspects of Andrei’s murder

Ankara, March 9 (AFP/APP): A Turkish court on Tuesday slapped life terms on five suspects over the 2016 murder of Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara, state news agency Anadolu reported.

The suspects were accused of links to the 22-year-old gunman, Mevlut Mert Altintas, who was killed by Turkish special forces shortly after he assassinated Karlov at a photo exhibition in the Turkish capital. Six other suspects were acquitted while seven were convicted of membership of an armed terrorist group, NTV broadcaster reported, without giving details.

Turkey blamed the movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Islamic preacher seen as an arch-foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for the murder. Ankara also accuses Gulen of orchestrating a failed coup to topple Erdogan and refers to the movement as the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO). The movement denies the claims, and insists it promotes peace and education.

Former intelligence agent Vehbi Kursad Akalin was given an aggravated life sentence after he “leaked information on Karlov to the movement”, NTV said. An aggravated life sentence has tougher terms of detention and replaced the death penalty after it was abolished in 2004.

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