ANKARA, April 1 /TASS/. Turkish police have detained Alparslan Celik, who earlier confessed to killing Russian Su-24 pilot Oleg Peshkov, on charges of breaching a law on arms, Turkey’s news agency Dogan reported on Friday.
Celik is going to face trial on this charge rather than over suspicion of complicity to the Russian pilot’s death. Celik’s prosecutors have studied his dossier and learnt that he had been sentenced to 2.5 year in prison in the past but have not served his prison sentence for an unknown reason, the news agency went on to say.
A prosecutor who was questioning Celik asked him to explain his words about the involvement in the Russian pilot’s murder. Celik’s lawyer objected and said that the theme was not linked to his client’s case. Therefore, Celik did not answer the prosecutor’s question.
Celik and another 13 people were detained at a restaurant in the Turkish city of Izmir on Thursday evening. The other restaurant guests, who noticed the men carrying arms, informed the police who arrived at the restaurant. Later, police confiscated tommy-guns, several pistols, a hunting rifle and portable transmitters during raids on the suspects’ homes.
Celik and the other suspects are now in custody pending trial. Their lawyers claim the defendants are innocent.
Prior to his detention, Celik was last seen in Turkey in January this year when he appeared at the funeral of Ibrahim Kucuk, the head of the MHP (the far-right Turkish Nationalist Movement Party) bureau in Istanbul’s Fatih district. Celik, who himself fought on the side of the Islamists in Syria, said it was he who had shot at the Russian pilot where he was descending with a parachute after the ejection.
The Turkish Air Force downed a Sukhoi Su-24 bomber over Syria on November 24, 2015. Turkey said the plane had violated the Turkish airspace. The Russian Defense Ministry claims that the Su-24 was gunned down over Syria. The crew managed to eject itself. One pilot was shot dead by fire opened from the ground. The second pilot was saved and delivered to the Khmeimim air base in Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described the attack on the Russian aircraft, which took part in the counter-terrorism operation in Syria and posed no threat to Turkey, as a treacherous "stab in the back."