MOSCOW, April 2 (RAPSI) – A court in Turkey on Monday issued an arrest warrant for the Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen and seven other individuals in absentia over the murder of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov, the Turkish newspaper Haberturk reported.

Turkey’s prosecutors believe that these eight people have organized the diplomat’s killing in December 2016, according to the newspaper.

On December 19, 2016, the off-duty police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas opened fire at an art gallery in Ankara when Karlov was giving a speech, according to Turkish officials. The ambassador was mortally wounded. At least three other persons were injured. The gunman was later killed by police officers in a shootout.

Videos of the assassination taken by journalists give investigators a reason to believe that the gunman’s actions and speech were related to his opinion concerning Russia’s policy in combating international terrorism.

In January 2018, Turkish police arrested a man, who allegedly was a key player in the assassination of the Russian ambassador. He has been earlier arrested as a member of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) led by U.S.- based cleric Gulen. The preacher is also suspected of organizing a coup in Turkey in the summer of 2016.

The Investigative Committee of Russia has opened a criminal case over the murder of Karlov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Karlov had been “despicably killed”. The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in turn characterized the murder of Russian ambassador as a terrorist attack aimed at deterioration of relations between the countries after the beginning of their normalization.