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Turkey Jails Five People For Life Over Killing Of Russian Envoy In 2016

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Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov moments before Mevlut Mert Altintas (background left) opened fire and killed him in Ankara on December 19, 2016

A Turkish court has sentenced five people to life in prison over the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Ankara more than four years ago, state media reported on March 9.

Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot dead by an off-duty police officer at the opening of a photography exhibition in the Turkish capital in December 2016.

The 22-year-old gunman, Mevlut Mert Altintas, shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and "Don't forget Aleppo!" as he opened fire, apparently referring to Russia's involvement in Syria's civil war.

He was shot dead by police shortly after the diplomat was slain.

The Ankara court also handed prison terms to eight defendants in the case, while six others were acquitted of all charges.

The court delayed the trial of nine fugitives, including a U.S.-based Muslim cleric named Fethullah Gulen.

The Russian Foreign Ministry welcomed "the Turkish judiciary’s resolute condemnation of this terrorist attack," which it said "left a deep scar on the history of modern Russian-Turkish relations."

In 2018, Turkish authorities indicted a total of 28 suspects on charges of attempting to "overthrow the constitutional order," membership of a terrorist organization, and premeditated murder.

They have alleged that the gunman belonged to a network led by Gulen, whose movement is also accused of masterminding a failed coup earlier in 2016 -- which the cleric denies.

Turkey has repeatedly sought Gulen's extradition from the United States, but Washington has resisted the pleas.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Anadolu
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