Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici has won Photo of the Year at the 2017 World Press Photo awards for his image of an off-duty Turkish policeman standing over a Russian ambassador whom he just shot.
The picture of gunman Mevlut Mert Altintas and ambassador Andrei Karlov, which was taken in December, was controversial among jury members. The awards’ jury chair, Stuart Franklin voted against the photo, saying it was “morally as problematic to publish as a terrorist beheading”.
“It was a very very difficult decision, but in the end we felt that the picture of the year was an explosive image that really spoke to the hatred of our times,” member of the jury Mary F Calvert said.
“Every time it came on the screen you almost had to move back because it’s such an explosive image and we really felt that it epitomises the definition of what the World Press Photo of the Year is and means.”
Ozbilici’s picture was chosen among 80,408 photos submitted to the competition by 5,034 photographers from 125 countries.
Ozbilici said upon receiving his award, “I immediately decided to do my job because I could be wounded, maybe die, but at least I have to represent good journalism.”
The jury awarded prizes in eight categories to 45 photographers from 25 countries, including USA’s Brent Stirton for his rhino poaching picture, France’s Laurent van der Stockt for his Mosul photo, and Russia’s Valery Melnikov for her long-term project Black Days of Ukraine.