Three suspects have been released in the murder trial of Andrey Karlov, Russia’s former ambassador to Turkey who was assassinated in the capital of Ankara in 2016 while attending an art exhibition.
The murder trial of Karlov, in which 28 suspects including Fethullah Gülen, the exiled cleric based in the US that Ankara insists was behind the failed July 15, 2016 military coup, is ongoing. The hearing was attended by suspects that are both being held in detention and those who are free pending trial.
Karlov was assassinated by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, a 22-year old off-duty police officer that was standing behind Karlov at the exhibition. Altıntaş was subsequently killed by security forces. Prior to being killed, Altıntaş shouted out and referenced the then-current siege of Aleppo by regime forces, which recaptured the Syrian city from rebel forces in December 2016.
Turkey blamed followers of Gülen, which it has deemed the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) for being behind Karlov’s assassination, claiming that it was an attempt to ruin relations between Ankara and Moscow, which were already sensitive following Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet near the border with Syria in the previous year.
The three suspects released included Altıntaş’s former roommate Sercan Basar, as well as Mustafa Timur Özkan, who was one of the organizers of the Ankara art exhibition where the assassination took place. The third released suspect was Kağan Bülbül.
The suspects were released on the condition of judicial control, and seven of the suspects who are being tried remain in custody.