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Italy extradites Turkish Cypriot lawyer to Cyprus for illegal sale of Greek Cypriot property

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Akan Kürşat, a Turkish Cypriot lawyer, has been extradited from Italy to the Republic of Cyprus on charges of involvement in the illegal sale of Greek Cypriot property in the northern part of the island, local media reported on Friday.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when the Turkish army invaded the northern third of the island in response to a coup that had sought to unite the entire island with Greece.
United Nations peacekeepers patrol a buffer zone separating the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) from the internationally recognized south.

This extradition follows Kürşat’s arrest in Italy on New Year’s Eve, which was carried out on the basis of a European arrest warrant over his real estate transactions in northern Cyprus.
Kürşat initially contested his extradition to Cyprus. However, on February 2, he changed his stance and agreed through his legal representatives to be extradited.

The lawyer is accused of extortion and illegal possession and use of land. His legal troubles began in 2005 when a national arrest warrant was issued for him in Cyprus.

The lawyer’s extradition is seen by many in the KKTC as politically motivated. Kürşat is the husband of a KKTC lawmaker from the opposition party.

Hasan Esendağlı, chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Bar Association, described Kürşat’s extradition as a case of “hostage taking” and criticized the actions of the Republic of Cyprus.

The Republic of Cyprus warns against buying property in what is calls the occupied areas, citing the rights of displaced Greek Cypriots to their property under international and national law.

Cypriot media reported that Kürşat appeared in court on Friday and is to be released on bail of 10,000 euros in cash and a bank guarantee of 65,000 euros.

Cypriot police have also announced that several other individuals linked to crimes involving property in the island’s north have outstanding European arrest warrants. These include British national Gary Robb, Turkish Cypriot contractor Tuncel Tahir Soykan and construction engineer Kutsal Tokatlıoğlu, all linked to Aga Developments, a company allegedly involved in illegal property sales in the north.

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