Turkish photographer Burhan Ozbilici has won the 2017 World Press Photo of the Year prize for a photograph taken moments after the assassination in December of Turkey’s Russian ambassador, Andrei Karlov. The photograph depicts the assassin, off-duty police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas, standing over Karlov’s body just moments after Altintas opened fire. The incident took place during the launch of a new art exhibit in Ankara on December 19.
The winning image has already stirred controversy. In a Guardian editorial, World Press Photo jury chair Stuart Franklin writes that, while the image is impactful, “Placing the photograph on this high pedestal is an invitation to those contemplating such staged spectaculars: it reaffirms the compact between martyrdom and publicity.” He continues, “To be clear, my moral position is not that the well-intentioned photographer should be denied the credit he deserves; rather that I feared we’d be amplifying a terrorist’s message through the additional publicity that the top prize attracts.”
In support of the image, fellow juror Mary F. Calvert states, “we felt that the picture of the Year was an explosive image that really spoke to the hatred of our times… we really felt that it epitomizes the definition of what the World Press Photo of the Year is and means.”
The image also won first prize in the Spot News (stories) category. Other photos of global violence—several of which show bombing and airstrike aftermath—were also honored. Pakistan-based photographer Jamal Taraqai’s coverage of a fatal bomb attack on a hospital in Pakistan won first prize in the Spot News (singles) category.
American photographer Jonathan Bachman’s image of Ieshia Evans, a 28-year-old nurse who he photographed as she stood her ground against police in Baton Rouge, won first prize in the Contemporary Issues (singles) category. Canadian photographer Amber Bracken’s coverage of Standing Rock won the Contemporary Issues (stories) category.
Additional categories this year include Daily Life, General News, Long-Term Projects, Nature, People and Sports. A full list of winners in each category can be found on worldpressphoto.org.
This year marks the 60th round of the World Press Photo Contest and the 7th annual World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest. The contest drew 80,408 images from 5,034 photographers in 125 countries.