A remand measure “temporary detention for a period of 40 days” was given to the Turkish reserve colonel Mustafa Levent Göktash, who was wanted by INERPOL with a red list as a suspect in the murder of the intellectual writer Necip Hablemitoglu. The decision was made by Judge Filip Filipov of the District Court – Haskovo.
The 63-year-old man was wanted by the authorities in our southern neighbor, from where they requested his detention and extradition in connection with a criminal prosecution for an intentional murder committed on 18.12.2002 in the city of Cankaya, Ankara region. Under the Turkish Penal Code, the crime is punishable by life imprisonment.
Necip Hablemitoglu is one of the first intellectuals in Turkey who spoke about the danger of the actions of Fethullah Gülen’s organization as a network that, under the guise of religion, aims to seize positions of power in the state, as well as the expansion of Gülen’s network abroad, mainly in Germany. For years, the killing went unsolved despite suspicions that it was carried out by members of preacher Fethullah Gulen’s FETO group, which Turkish authorities say was behind the 2016 coup attempt.
Göktash entered Bulgaria illegally on August 23, 2022 through a “green border”. The prosecutor’s office imposed a monetary guarantee and a ban on leaving the country. The man stayed in Svilengrad, but was detained on September 1, 2022 in the border town during a routine police check. He then produced his driver’s license, whereupon it was discovered that he was wanted and he was arrested.
In the District Court today, the foreigner was defended by lawyer Ivan Ivanov from Svilengrad. Before the hearing, he stated that his client had fled Turkey because he was politically persecuted in his homeland. He specified that he crossed the border illegally, although Göktash has a special green passport that gives him the right to cross without a visa. He escaped with the idea of seeking asylum in Bulgaria and being granted humanitarian refugee status. The lawyer denied that his client was a member of FETO. He specified that he was repressed because of accusations by members of the organization that he participated in an organized criminal group, for which he was imprisoned in Turkey for 5 years without being convicted. In March 2014, he was acquitted. According to lawyer Ivanov, his client is angry that he committed the murder of Necip Hablemitoglu, who was shot in front of his home 20 years ago.
Göktash most recently worked as a lawyer in Ankara and Istanbul, and for 2021 he even paid one of the highest guild taxes in the country – 1,300,000 Turkish lira.
In the end, the District Court – Haskovo decided that Göktash should remain in custody. Among the reasons were that he is a foreign citizen, has no address in Bulgaria and can hide. The decision is subject to appeal before the Plovdiv Court of Appeal within 3 days.