Turkey trial to open into Russian ambassador’s 2016 killing

1 / 2
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)
2 / 2
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

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 archaeologist Zahi Hawass: ‘There isn’t a country that doesn’t love Egyptian archaeology’

Updated 46 min 31 sec ago

Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass: ‘There isn’t a country that doesn’t love Egyptian archaeology’

  • With only 30 percent of Egyptian monuments discovered, there is no rush to pursue the remaining 70 percent which remain hidden underground, says Hawass

 CAIRO: World-renowned Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass has affirmed the importance of Egyptian archaeology around the globe.

“There isn’t a country that does not love Egyptian archaeology,” Hawass, who was minister of state for antiquities affairs, told Arab News.

With only 30 percent of Egyptian monuments discovered, Hawass said there was no rush to pursue the remaining 70 percent which remain hidden underground.

“We don’t want to discover everything. We want to start by preserving and preparing the historical monuments which we have discovered, then start thinking about what is still undiscovered,” Hawass said.

So, restoration and preservation are the main goals for now.

With the new Grand Egyptian Museum still in the works, it seems likely that archaeology will be put in the spotlight once again, with more room for Egyptian artifacts to be showcased and appreciated rather than hidden, as in the old Tahrir museum.

“No one in the world doesn’t know Egypt. Egyptian archaeology is in the hearts of all people all across the world,” Hawass said.

This explains the immense popularity the new museum is expecting, located as it is, minutes away from the Pyramids of Giza.

Another reason behind its expected popularity is the attention ancient Egyptian figures have received across the years.

“Among the most famous ancient Egyptian figures, even for those who are not interested in monuments, we have King Kufu, who built the greatest pyramid, because that pyramid is something everyone talks about,” Hawass said.

He added that King Tutankhamun was popular because his coffin was restored whole, as was King Ramses II, the most famous of Egyptian kings, and Queen Cleopatra. Each of these figures gained fame due to popular tales and monuments attached to them.

Hawass plays a crucial role in drawing awareness about Egyptian archaeology around the world as well as focusing on the current situation in Egypt.

“I lecture everywhere (about archaeology)” he said. “Two to three thousand people attend each of my lectures. So I take advantage of to tell people everywhere that Egypt is safe and that Egypt is run by a president whom we have chosen. I am trying to change the perception about Egypt.”

As part of his efforts to promote Egypt and Egyptian culture, Hawass recently visited Japan.

“They (the Japanese) love archaeology. I would never have expected to be famous in Japan, but as a result of their love of Egyptian archaeology, they know me,” Hawass explained.

This is but a speck in the eventful career Hawass has led — which all started by accident.

“As a child I wanted to become a lawyer, so I enrolled in law school at 16 but realized that it wasn’t something I could do. So I left law and decided to study literature. There they told me about a new section called archaeology,” Hawass said.

After graduating Hawass went to work for the government, which he dreaded, until his first project came along. Workers came across a statue hidden inside a coffin which he had to clean. During the process he found his passion for archaeology. He went on to pursue his graduate studies on the subject.

“I went from failure to success thanks to one thing: Passion. When a person is passionate about something, he excels in it.”

Hawass did not point out his most successful or most preferred moment in his career, so full his life has been of memorable events.

“You cannot prefer one of your children over another. They’re all in my heart, all of the discoveries I have made.”