Turkish suspect of Russian pilot’s killing arrested in Georgia over mob charge
İZMİR - Demirören News Agency
Turkish citizen Serkan Kurtuluş (in navy blue shirt) was detained in Tblisi, Georgia, on June 29, 2018.
A Turkish suspect in the legal case on the 2015 killing of a Russian pilot in Syria has been arrested in Georgia over charges of forming a criminal organization, assault, arson and blackmailing.
According to İzmir Chief Prosecutor’s Office, Serkan Kurtuluş played a key role in the mob, which was based in the western Turkish province of İzmir, operating in Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Muğla, Artvin and Trabzon as well.
Police detained 49 people in raids across Turkey in recent weeks, notifying Interpol that Kurtuluş evaded capture and thought to have fled the country.
Following an Interpol arrest warrant, Georgian police detained Kurtuluş in Tblisi on June 29 and sent him to Rustavi Prison near the capital.
According to Turkish officials, Ankara sent an extradition request for Kurtuluş to Georgia.
Kurtuluş was among the 18 suspects who put on trial in Turkey over the killing of Oleg Peshkov, the pilot of the Russian jet downed by Turkey on Nov. 24, 2015.
Both pilots aboard the downed SU-24 jet ejected and parachuted to the ground on the Syrian side of the border. One of them was killed by gun fire from the ground after ejecting from the plane.
Alparslan Çelik, the main suspect, had defended the killing of the jet pilot in a video, saying the pilot had dropped bombs on Turkmens.
Çelik, as well as 17 other suspects, were being tried in İzmir 27th Criminal Court of First Instance after five automatic rifles, four pistols and two walkie-talkies were found in the searches carried out on them, in their houses and their vehicles on March 31, 2016.
Seven suspects were sentenced to five years in prison each, including Çelik. In addition, one was sentenced to 1.5 years, while two were given ten months of prison time, and the others, including Kurtuluş, were acquitted.
The verdict is still not final as higher courts are in process to overturn or uphold it.