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ANKARA, April 4. /TASS/. The issue of the extradition to Russia of Alparslan Celik who had previously confessed to the murder of Oleg Peshkov, the pilot of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-24 bomber that was downed by Turkey last November, may be considered by the prosecutor’s office - a representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the city of Izmir where the investigation of Celik’s case continues, told TASS on Monday.
"If the Russian side makes the corresponding extradition requests, it will be considered by the prosecutor. We so far cannot disclose the details of the investigation and whether such a request has been made," the source said. The prosecutor’s office also made it clear that the extradition question is complicated by the fact that "Celik is citizen of Turkey, not Russia." The office declined further comment.
Celik and six more suspects were arrested on Sunday on charges of illegal possession of firearms. They will be kept in custody until the investigation is over and the final measure of restraint is appointed. Six more people detained on the same charges were release but are still under investigation. Two of them were released under recognizance not to leave. According to investigators, Celik, previously sentenced to 2.5 years in prison on currency counterfeiting and fraud charges, had not served his prison sentence for an unknown reason.
TASS so far has no comments on this matter from Russian officials.
Celik and another 14 people were detained at a restaurant in the Turkish city of Izmir on March 30. The police confiscated from them several unregistered assault rifles, a hunting rifle and pistols. Some of the detained have reportedly returned from Syria where they fought for Islamists.
In addition, Turkeys TV channel HaberTurk reported previously that when the prosecutor asked Celik to comment on the video featuring armed people shooting at the parachuting Russian pilot, he said he warned people next to him not to shoot. However, Celik had said previously it was he who had shot at the Russian pilot when he was descending with a parachute after the ejection.
The Turkish Air Force downed a Sukhoi Su-24 bomber of Russia’s Aerospace Forces on November 24, 2015 by an air-to-air missile fired by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet when the Russian plane was at an altitude of 6,000 meters 1 kilometer from Turkey’s border. Later the Russian Defense Ministry specified that the Su-24 was downed when it was returning to the Hmeimim airbase in Syria.
"Objective control data analysis unambiguously showed that there was no violation of Turkey’s airspace," the ministry said. However, Turkey’s General Staff claimed that the Turkish fighter jet shot down a plane that violated the country’s airspace. A statement circulated by the Turkish military says the plane’s crew received 10 warnings for five minutes.
The crew managed to eject, but one of the two pilots of the bomber was killed by fire opened from the ground. The second pilot was rescued and evacuated to the base.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Turkish Air Force attack against the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 plane, which took part in Russia’s antiterrorism operation in Syria and did not present a threat to Turkey, "a stab in Russia’s back" delivered by terrorists’ accomplices.