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Bulgaria approves Turkish extradition request for suspect in 2002 murder of academic

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A Bulgarian court has approved an extradition request from Turkey for a suspect in the 2002 murder of a Turkish academic who was detained in Bulgaria a few months ago, BBC Turkish service reported on Wednesday.

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 sent an extradition request for Göktaş on Sept. 5.

The BBC on Wednesday cited a lawyer for Göktaş as saying that Turkey’s extradition request was approved by a court in Plovdiv.

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

Göktaş faces charges of premeditated murder and membership in a criminal organization as part of an investigation carried out by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The office issued arrest warrants in June for nine people in connection with the academic’s murder. Eight of them, including retired military officers, were arrested by Ankara police while a manhunt was underway to capture Göktaş.

Meanwhile, journalist İsmail Saymaz during a recent program on Halk TV read a letter regarding the academic’s murder that was handwritten by Göktaş three days before he was caught. Saymaz quoted Göktaş as saying that he and the other military officers alleged to have links to the murder had nothing to do with it and that the claims against them were “lies” and “part of a conspiracy” against them.

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