Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Arrested Turkish Cypriot lawyer ‘taken hostage’

akan kursat
Akan Kursat

Turkish Cypriot lawyer Akan Kursat was “taken hostage” when he was arrested in Italy, Turkish Cypriot Bar Association chairman Hasan Esendagli said on Thursday.

Kursat was arrested while on holiday in Rome when Italian authorities acted on a European arrest warrant that had been put out in his name. The warrant had been put out by the Republic of Cyprus regarding Kursat’s alleged role in the sale of Greek Cypriot-owned properties in the north.

Esendagli criticised the Republic of Cyprus’ approach to the matter, saying the Republic has “created intercommunal and state-wide conflicts by criminalising some acts within its own territory, especially by making it easier to criminalise Turkish Cypriots, and by using the legal advantages which come with membership of the European Union”.

He said the Greek Cypriots were using an international issue as a tool to put pressure on people, which was very dangerous.

“While it is debatable how much of a contribution the Turkish Cypriot side has made to the solution of the Cyprus problem … it is clear that this Greek Cypriot approach will not contribute to a fair solution and will in fact undermine the process,” he said.

“This process has reached alarming dimensions, and [Akan Kursat] is almost being used as an instrument of policy. Unfortunately, [he] has been taken hostage. It is unclear how this matter will be resolved.”

He said the bar association was watching the case with great concern.

“As jurists and lawyers who are citizens of both the TRNC and the Republic of Cyprus, we believe that every institution of our state, as well as of the Republic of Turkey, should take a stand behind Akan Kursat on this issue.”

But he added that the Turkish Cypriots could only act with very narrow legal instruments before the Italian judiciary.

Speaking on the wider issue of property in the north, he said it was “too early” to tell whether the case would impact foreign investors in the north.

“Frankly, the interest of foreign investors in Cyprus is also a controversial issue. We as lawyers have previously pointed out that real estate in North Cyprus, especially construction and sales policies towards third country nationals, should be reviewed,” he said.

He added that the question of whether or not investors will lose interest in the north is “frankly not our current priority”.

“Our current concern is this new policy and initiative which threatens many Turkish Cypriots, particularly our colleague [Akan Kursat], in terms of security and freedom.”

Akan Kursat filed an objection to the Republic of Cyprus’ extradition request at a hearing on Tuesday, saying prisons in the Republic of Cyprus would not be safe for him, and citing an earlier killing of a Turkish Cypriot inmate in 2022.

 

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