İrem UZUN -TDO- A Turkish court has sentenced five people to life in jail over the murder of the Russian ambassador in Ankara more than five years ago, according to media in Turkey.  Andrei Karlov was shot dead by an off-duty policeman, 22-year-old Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, while speaking at a photo exhibition opening in the Turkish capital on December 19, 2016. 

Turkish prosecutors had concluded that a criminal network, led by U.S.-based terrorist Fethullah Gülen, was behind Karlov's slaying. A total of 28 people including Gülen, were charged over the ambassador's killing. Prosecutors said the attack was meant to derail warming ties between Turkey and Russia and have blamed the network behind a failed coup attempt in Turkey earlier that year.  The court in Ankara sentenced three defendants to two separate life terms, while two others received one life term for "membership of a terrorist organization", according to the Anadolu Agency.

Those sentenced include the man suspected of "controlling" Altıntaş, a former intelligence officer accused of providing information on the ambassador's moves to Gülen's network, and a person accused of relaying orders for the killing. The suspects have rejected all accusations against them and are expected to appeal the ruling. Six others were acquitted of all charges, the agency reported, after a trial that began in January 2019. 

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