A Turkish Cypriot lawyer arrested in Italy over selling property in the north filed an objection to Cyprus’ extradition request on Tuesday, arguing the central prisons would not be safe for him, citing the killing of a Turkish Cypriot inmate in the past.

Akan Kursat, a legal counsel, was apprehended based on a European arrest warrant for the exploitation and sale of Greek Cypriot property in the north.

Kursat, who has been held in prison for 16 days, appeared before the court in Rome and filed an objection to Cyprus’ request for his extradition.

He told the court he would not be safe in a Cypriot prison, as a Turkish Cypriot detainee had been killed in 2022.

The court will convene on February 6 to assess what happens next.

Cyprus’ European arrest warrant was secured against him in 2007 for the illegal sales, under which British con man Gary Robb was also arrested.

On his extradition, Kursat will be tried at the Nicosia District Court. However, following the objection legal procedures will ascertain to what extent the charges against him are also considered criminal offences under Italian law, and to what degree they carry a penalty of imprisonment beyond one year.

Kursat is expected to eventually be extradited since his arrest in Italy could only have been lawful if the charges listed on the warrant were considered equivalent under that state’s law.

Kursat was initially arrested in 2005, on a Turkish passport, along with Robb and a Turkish Cypriot contractor, for fraud and exploitation of properties without approval of their rightful owner, perpetrated in his role as legal counsel to development company AGA Development.

A British couple sought justice following a fraudulent sale after the non-issuance of title deeds for a villa in the north.

The Republic then appears to have cancelled the arrest warrant, without recourse to Europol but in 2007 reissued another warrant, which added a fourth offender to the case – the project’s engineer.

On New Year’s Eve Kursat was arrested at a hotel in Rome where he was staying with his wife, the north’s ‘deputy prime minister’ and CTP ‘MP’ Fazilet Ozdenefe. They had gone there through Istanbul.

Kursat’s latest apprehension in Italy appears to also have been made on his Turkish passport, despite his possession of a Cyprus one, issued by the Republic in 2014.

The Turkish newspaper Diyalog reported on Monday that “all eyes are focused” on the court outcome, as the case is expected to set a legal precedent.

It is the first time a Turkish Cypriot bearing Cypriot citizenship will be tried for exploitation of Greek Cypriot properties in the north.

Meanwhile, the Turkish foreign ministry has been offering support to Kursat in the handling of the case.

British con man Robb had been convicted in Cyprus and sentenced to ten months in prison by a Cypriot court after he was extradited for selling Greek Cypriot land to Britons.

The British police estimate that some 400 Britons lost a total of over €40 million in deals made with AGA Development.

It is alleged that Robb received between £5,000 and £10,000 a week from the drug trade in England and then sent this money to the north.

It is widely speculated that Greek Cypriot lawyer Rikkos Mappourides is Kursat’s defence lawyer.