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Turkey court sentences five to life over 2016 Russian envoy killing, acquits six

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A Turkish court on Tuesday sentenced five suspects to life in jail over the 2016 murder of Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara, state news agency Anadolu reported.

Six other suspects were acquitted while seven others were convicted of membership of an armed terrorist group, NTV broadcaster reported, without giving further details.

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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.

State broadcaster TRT Haber reported that three of the suspects were given two life sentences without parole, while two others received one life sentence each, also without parole.

One of the defendants was an organizer of the attack and another was a former intelligence officer believed to have leaked information about Karlov to the network, it said.

President Tayyip Erdogan had said the movement of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind the assassination, a charge Gulen has denied. Ankara also blames Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, for a failed coup in 2016.

In 2018 Turkey indicted 28 people over the killing, naming Gulen as the prime suspect. The suspects were charged with attempting to “overthrow the constitutional order,” membership of a terrorist organization and of premeditated murder.

The cases of Gulen and nine others were being handled separately.

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