ANKARA (Sputnik) - Ankara’s Second Criminal Court for Serious Crimes started the first hearing on the case of the murder of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov on 8 January, a Sputnik correspondent reported from the courtroom.
The hearing is taking place in a small hall at the Palace of Justice. Apart from several journalists and civilians, many police officers and lawyers are present at the hearing. The judge started by reading out the passport data of the defendants and asking them about their marital status and profession.
There are a total of 18 defendants, including one woman. Four of the defendants are participating in the hearing by video link from prisons in different regions of Turkey, where they are being kept in custody.
There are a total of 28 suspects in the case, including opposition Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. The indictment says that the assassination of the diplomat was organised by the Gulen movement, which Ankara refers to as the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) and accuses of masterminding the failed coup in July 2016. According to the document, Karlov's assassination was a provocation aimed at damaging Russo-Turkish relations.
Karlov was shot by an off-duty Turkish police officer, Mevlut Mert Altintas, at the opening of an art gallery exhibition called "Russia from Kaliningrad to Kamchatka through the eyes of a traveller" in Ankara on 19 December 2016. The attacker was killed at the scene by the police.