(8 Jan 2019) An Associated Press photographer who took photos of the moment an off-duty police officer fatally shot Russia’s ambassador to Turkey at a photo exhibition in 2016 described it as the “hardest, most difficult assignment, work, in my professional life.”
Burhan Ozbilici, who later went on to win the World Press Photo 2017 award, said he knew he was risking his life by continuing to take pictures as the off-duty police officer shot Andrei Karlov, but he did not panic.
“(I) decided to stand and do my job as an AP journalist,” he said on Tuesday as the trial opened of 28 people accused of involvement in the killing, including US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for a failed coup the same year.
Karlov was killed at a photo exhibition in Ankara on December 19, 2016. The officer was later shot dead at the scene by police.
Turkish prosecutors say Gulen’s network was behind the killing, which they say aimed to derail warming ties between Turkey and Russia. Nine people were arrested. Others, including Gulen, are on trial in absentia on Tuesday.
Prosecutors are seeking life prison sentences for some of the defendants and maximum 15-year terms for others.
Gulen has denied involvement in the coup and in Karlov’s killing.
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