Moscow has demanded Ankara to find and prosecute all those responsible for the death of a Russian pilot whose fighter jet was shot down by the Turkish military on the Syrian border last November.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s demand on Friday came after Turkish authorities dropped all charges against main suspect in the killing, Alparsalan Celik.
Addressing reporters in Moscow, Zakharova called on Turkish authorities to “search and hold accountable all involved in the murder of the Russian pilot” identified as Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov.
Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber on the Syrian border on November 24, 2015, sparking a crisis in their diplomatic ties.
The crew of the plane ejected but one of the pilots was killed by Turkish nationalists on the ground as he was parachuting down. The other pilot was rescued by the Syrian army.
Zakharova voiced serious concern over the fact that Ankara has not charged Celik. A court in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir dropped all charges against him on Monday.
Celik had been arrested along with 13 other men at a restaurant in the Turkish province of Hatay after saying his group killed the Russian pilot.
The prosecutor reportedly made the decision after examining “video evidence” in which Celik is allegedly seen telling armed men shooting at the Russian pilot not to do so.
Zakharova asked Ankara to charge Celik and all those “involved in the crime under his supervision.”
“Such stance of the Turkish authorities is very worrisome and raises a lot of questions,” she said.
“There is an impression that Turkish authorities are deliberately trying to acquit the person who has publicly confessed in committing this serious crime,” the Russian spokeswoman added.
A Russian jet goes down in flames in northern Syria after being shot down by Turkish fighter jets, November 24, 2015. ©Reuters
Zakharova said there is “no clarity or transparency about what is happening.”
Practically, Ankara is expressing its reluctance to take responsibility for the actions, which have led to the annihilation of the aircraft and ultimately death of the pilot.”
Celik is the son of a former district mayor elected from a Turkish nationalist party. In an interview with Hurriyet
newspaper, Celik had said the killing was in retaliation for Russia
’s aerial campaign against militants in neighboring Syria.
Relations between Moscow and Ankara took a nosedive following the downing incident, with the Kremlin imposing a raft of economic sanctions against Turkey