Turkey to hand over body of dead Russian pilot to Moscow: PM

The coffin of the pilot killed when Turkey shot down a Russian jet is carried to a Turkish Air Force Cargo Aircraft on Nov 29, 2015.
The coffin of the pilot killed when Turkey shot down a Russian jet is carried to a Turkish Air Force Cargo Aircraft on Nov 29, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

ANKARA (AFP) - The body of a Russian pilot killed when his plane was shot down by Turkey last week will be handed over to a Russian representative after being retrieved from Syria, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Sunday (Nov 29).

"The pilot who lost his life during the air violation was received by us on the (Syrian) border last night," Davutoglu told reporters in Istanbul before leaving for a meeting with EU leaders in Brussels.

Davutoglu added that a Russian official would travel "soon" to the southern Hatay region with a Turkish military official to take possession of the body.

The Russian embassy in Turkey told the RIA Novosti news agency that Oleg Peshkov's body would be flown on Sunday (Nov 29) from Hatay in the presence of Russia's military attache to an aerodrome in Ankara where it would be met by the ambassador.

The date and time when the body would be returned to Russia was still to be confirmed, embassy spokesman Igor Mityakov was quoted as saying.

One of the two pilots aboard the plane which was downed on Tuesday (Nov 24) was shot dead in Syria after parachuting from the burning aircraft, while the second was found safe and sound.

"In accordance with their (Russian) religious tradition, funeral arrangements were carried out by Orthodox priests in Hatay," Davutoglu said.

Turkey's military said the Su-24 bomber was shot down by two of its F-16s after it violated Turkish airspace 10 times within a five-minute period on Tuesday (Nov 24).

Russia however said no warning had been given and that the aircraft did not violate Turkish airspace, and demanded an apology.

The incident has led to a sharp deterioration of relations, with Moscow, a major trade partner and Turkey's largest energy supplier, on Saturday (Nov 28) announcing a package of economic sanctions against Turkey.

"Turkey's relations with Russia is based on mutual benefit and common interests. Therefore I urge the Russian authorities to take this into consideration and act in a cool-headed way," he said when asked about the sanctions.