An investigation has been launched into the circumstances under which arrested Turkish Cypriot lawyer Akan Kursat managed to obtain a Republic of Cyprus passport while a warrant was out for his arrest, according to reports.

Kursat was arrested in Italy over the New Year’s holiday after Italian authorities acted on an outstanding European arrest warrant.

The warrant had been issued in 2007 and related to the alleged illegal sale of Greek Cypriot property in the north. Kursat has objected to his planned extradition to the Republic of Cyprus. He will remain in custody until at least February 6.

However, since the date of his arrest, questions have been raised over how, given the existence of a warrant, he managed to avoid being arrested in Cyprus.

These questions are now being raised at a governmental level, as Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou confirmed to newspaper Politis that Kursat had applied for a passport in 2014 and that the passport had been issued on July 23 the same year.

The passport was his second, after he had applied for his first in 2004 – before the issue of his first arrest warrant in 2005 and the European arrest warrant two years later.

It is believed that when Kursat applied for his passport in 2014, the Republic’s authorities either did not take into consideration the lists of people for whom there are outstanding arrest warrants or did not make the link between the name of the applicant and the name on the warrant.

Questions also remain over how Kursat managed to avoid arrest between 2014 and 2023.

His arrest has caused controversy in the north, with Cyprus Turkish Bar Association chairman Hasan Esendagli saying he had been “taken hostage”.

Esendagli criticised 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”.

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot Leader Ersin Tatar had criticised the arrest, describing it as “[a] new example of the general maximalist approaches of the Greek Cypriot leadership.”

“It is obvious that if such initiatives are not stopped, and are allowed to continue, relations between the two sides will deteriorate,” he said, adding, “the Greek Cypriot side is trying to disrupt [United Nations Envoy Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar’s] work before it has even started.”

This position has gained support across the north’s political spectrum, with Tufan Erhurman, who leads opposition party CTP, the party to which Kursat’s wife and ‘deputy parliament speaker’ Fazilet Ozdenefe also belongs, speaking in less than positive terms about the circumstances.

He said the Greek Cypriot side is using the case to “create conditions of concern,” and that Kursat’s arrest is a “political” work.