Turkey trial to open into Russian ambassador’s 2016 killing

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Mevlut Mert Altintas, an off-duty policeman, shouts after shooting Andrei Karlov, right, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)
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Andrei Karlov, then Russian Ambassador to Turkey, pauses during a speech at a photo exhibition in Ankara, moments before Mevlut Mert Altintas, seen background left, opened fire on him and killed him. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)
Updated 08 January 2019
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Turkey trial to open into Russian ambassador’s 2016 killing

  • Andrei Karlov, 62, was shot dead by an off-duty Turkish policeman at a photo exhibition in Ankara on December 19, 2016
  • The 22-year-old gunman, Mevlut Mert Altintas, shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and “Don’t forget Aleppo”

ANKARA: Twenty eight suspects were due to go on trial Tuesday over the assassination of the Russian ambassador two year ago, including a US-based Muslim preacher blamed by Ankara for a failed coup the same year.
Andrei Karlov, 62, was shot dead by an off-duty Turkish policeman at a photo exhibition in Ankara 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 Syria would be held accountable.
Altintas was killed shortly after by members of the Turkish special forces.
The Ankara prosecutor 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 organization.”
Thirteen are currently in pre-trial detention, while it is prosecuting others in absentia.
Those not in Turkey include Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Islamic preacher seen as an arch foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and who Ankara blames for the July 2016 coup attempt.
Gulen has denied links to both the failed coup and the murder.
Turkish officials have alleged that Gulen’s movement organized the murder of Karlov, a married father-of-one, to sow “chaos.”
Turkey refers to the organization as the “Fetullah Terrorist Organization” (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 Gulen in Istanbul and now heads the Texas-based North American University (NAU).
The prosecutor is seeking a variety of penalties for the suspects, including aggravated life sentences, which have replaced the death penalty in Turkey and carry harsher conditions than normal life imprisonment convictions.
The indictment says the Gulen movement plotted the murder of Karlov, who had been appointed as ambassador in 2013, to “break off bilateral relations” between Turkey and Russia and bring them to the brink of “hot war.”
The Kremlin had previously warned against rushing to any assumptions.
Although Moscow does not repeat the Gulen claims, Selim Koru, a Black Sea Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute think tank noted in a report late last year that Russia sent investigators and “if they had different findings, they didn’t say.”
Turkey and Russia 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 President Vladimir Putin 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 criticized by human rights groups and Ankara’s Western allies.


Egyptian voters urged to allow El-Sisi rule until 2030

Updated 21 April 2019
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Egyptian voters urged to allow El-Sisi rule until 2030

  • Egyptian officials said the results should be ready in a week after the elections
  • Opposition parties asked voters to refuse the suggested changes

CAIRO: Egyptian pro-government media are urging a "Yes" vote on the second day of a nationwide referendum that would allow President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to stay in power until 2030.
Polls reopened at 0700 GMT on Sunday. Voting will continue through Monday to allow maximum turnout, which the government hopes will lend the referendum legitimacy.
Election officials say results are expected within a week.
Opposition parties have called on voters to reject the changes, blasted by critics as a major step back to authoritarianism.
Voting comes amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since the 2013 military ouster of an elected but divisive president.
El-Sisi came to power in 2014 and was re-elected for a second four-year term last year.
Trucks with loudspeakers drove around central Cairo Sunday morning urging high turnout.