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Suspect in 2002 murder of Turkish academic is seeking asylum in Bulgaria: lawyer

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A lawyer representing a suspect in the 2002 murder of a Turkish academic who was detained in Bulgaria last month said his client has applied for asylum in Bulgaria out of fear for his safety if extradited to Turkey, Halk TV reported.

Retired colonel Mustafa Levent Göktaş, a former member of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) elite Special Forces Command who was sought on an Interpol Red Notice, was detained in the Bulgarian city of Svilengrad in late August.

Ankara subsequently contacted Bulgarian authorities, and the Justice Ministry last week sent an extradition request for Göktaş.

Göktaş’s lawyer, Ivan Ivanov, said his client is afraid of being subjected to inhumane and insulting treatment in Turkey and fears for his life if he is extradited and thus applied for asylum in Bulgaria on Aug. 26.

The lawyer said Göktaş applied for asylum before Turkey requested an Interpol Red Notice for him on Aug. 27. He said Turkey’s extradition request is politically motivated and as a result it is impossible for Bulgaria to extradite Göktaş to Turkey.

Necip Hablemitoğlu, an academic in the history department at Ankara University, was murdered outside his home in Ankara on January 18, 2002.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants in June for nine people in connection with the academic’s murder. Seven of them, including retired military officers, were arrested by Ankara police while a manhunt was underway to capture Göktaş and another retired colonel, Tan Dervişoğlu.

Both Göktaş and Dervişoğlu were reported to have fled abroad.

Göktaş faces charges of premeditated murder and membership in a criminal organization.

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