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Alparslan Celik may face trial over complicity in Russian pilot murder — lawyer

April 25, 15:59 UTC+3 ANKARA
No decision on opening a criminal case over the Russian pilot's murder has been made at this point
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© AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

ANKARA, April 25. /TASS/. The lawyer of Alparslan Celik, the alleged killer of Russian Su-24 bomber’s pilot in Syria last November, has not ruled out on Monday that the prosecutor’s office may initiate two trials against Celik who has recently been detained in Izmir. The lawyer, Murat Ustundag, told TASS that one indictment would be over the violation of the weapons law and the second may be prepared over the Russian pilot murder case.

"The trial over the pilot’s murder may be initiated if the prosecutor’s office considers the evidence it has sufficient for the criminal case opening. However, no decision [on this case opening] has been made at this point. If the prosecutor’s office deems it necessary, it will initiate two trials against Celik," the lawyer said.

Ustundag added that "the prosecutor’s office has not prepared the bill indictment at the moment." "The court hearing date has not been determined yet. The prosecutor’s office has not prepared a bill of indictment yet. I think that this will take another week," the lawyer said.

Celik and another 14 suspects 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, Turkey’s 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 allegedly 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 Khmeimim 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.

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