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Turkey resumes probe against Celik over Russian jet downing — lawyer

June 27, 19:06 UTC+3
1 pages in this article

ANKARA, June 27. /TASS/. The prosecutor’s office of the Turkish city of Izmir has resumed the investigation against Alparslan Celik over the incident with the murder of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-24 bomber pilot Oleg Peshkov in November 2015, but the criminal case has not been opened yet, Murat Ustundag, a lawyer of the Turkish citizen, told TASS on Monday.

"Since last Friday, the investigation procedures have been resumed. The prosecutor’s office deals with them. They are related to the incident with the Russian pilot. But no criminal proceedings have been instituted over this fact yet," the lawyer said. According to him, a criminal case may be opened by court after considering the prosecutor’s office indictment that is not ready yet.

Earlier on Monday, the first hearing of the case of Celik who is charged with violation of the law on weapons, was held. The court released him, and six more persons form custody, but the proceedings in this case will be continued. The suspects have been released on recognizance until the end of the proceedings. It’s rather common practice for the Turkish judicial system not to keep suspects in prison while the proceedings are underway.

However, However, Celik will remain under arrest in prison so far, as another case over one of older crimes has been opened against Celik. A decision on the measure of restraint over this episode is expected to be made in the coming days, and the next court meeting over the weapons case will be held on November 4.

Referring to the investigation into the incident with killing Russia’s Sukhoi Su-24 bomber pilot Oleg Peshkov, Taskin Kangal, one of the lawyers of Celik, told TASS earlier on Monday that "the prosecutor’s office resumed last Friday the investigation into the episodes with the Russian pilot and shooting on a Russian helicopter." "The investigation is underway on this case. So far the prosecutor’s office has not announced any specific dates or decisions, the prosecution side is engaged in the investigation activities," he said.

It became known in early May that the court would not initiate proceedings over Peshkov’s murder for lack of evidence. However, last week the prosecutor’s office allegedly received new information about the incident and in light of these new incriminating facts decided to resume the investigation.

In the context of the investigation into the incident with the Su-24 pilot, the prosecutor’s office intends to interrogate Celik once again. The investigators have reportedly received new information about the incident. In particular, Celik is expected to explain the situation with shooting on Russia’s Mi-8 helicopter that was on a mission to rescue the Su-24 pilots. As a result of the fire opened on the helicopter, Russian marine Alexander Pozynin was killed.

Turkish police detained Celik and another 14 individuals in a restaurant in Izmir on March 30. The authorities confiscated several unlicensed submachine guns, a rifle and several pistols from the suspects. Some had allegedly returned from Syria where they had fought on the side of armed militant groups.

The local media spread Celik’s confession about the murder of the Su-24 pilot, Oleg Peshkov. Later, when in custody, the suspect denied personally shooting down the Russian, saying he had never issued such an order. Subsequently, the Prosecutor’s Office failed to find sufficient grounds to initiate criminal proceedings for that incident.

On November 24, 2015, a Turkish F-16 fired an air-to-air missile, slamming into a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber at an altitude of 6,000 meters and roughly a kilometer from Turkey’s border. Later, the Russian Defense Ministry specified that the Su-24 was downed when it was returning to the Hmeymim airbase in Syria.

"Objective control data analysis explicitly demonstrated that there was no violation of Turkey’s airspace," the ministry said. However, Turkey’s General Staff claimed that the Turkish fighter jet had shot down a plane that violated the country’s airspace. A statement circulated by the Turkish military said the plane’s crew had received ten warnings in five minutes.

The crew managed to eject from the aircraft, but one of the two pilots was killed by gunfire from the ground. The second pilot was rescued and evacuated to the base.

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