German Minister Pursues "Caliph of Cologne" Extradition in Turkey

Interior Minister Schily is in Ankara to discuss deporting a Turkish, Islamic fundamentalist. A German court stopped a deportation order against the "Caliph of Cologne," saying Turkey might not observe his human rights.

​​German Interior Minister Otto Schily meets with his Turkish counterpart Abdulkadir Aksu in Ankara on Tuesday to get assurances from the Turkish government that "no statements obtained through torture would be used against [Islamic fundamentalist Metin] Kaplan" in a Turkish trial. A Düsseldorf court had prevented the deportation of the self-proclaimed "Caliph of Cologne" because it said there was no guarantee that Turkey would give him a fair trial and abstain from torture.

The case could become "a symbol for the weakness of our state" if it proves impossible to deport Kaplan, Schily said in an interview with the newsmagazine Der Spiegel. "If we don't succeed in getting this person out of the country, the well-fortified democracy has not gotten very far. What else are we going to put up with?"

Wanted in Turkey

German Interior Minister Otto Schily and his Turkish counterpart Abdulkadir Aksu after signing an agreement to jointly combat terrorism and organised crime in Ankara in March 2003.

​​The Turkish national served four years in a German prison for inciting the murder of a rival who was killed by unknown assailants in 1999. Kaplan has been on Turkey's most-wanted list for years for presumably planning an attack on government officials. Interior Minister Schily hopes an appeals court will allow deportation if he obtains assurances from Turkey that Kaplan would receive a fair trial and torture would not be employed to extract confessions.

Last week he strongly criticized the Düsseldorf court's ruling that prohibited Kaplan's deportation, saying the decision was wrong because it was based on the assumption that Turkey uses torture to obtain confessions. Schily referred to the fact that Turkey has ratified the European Human Rights Convention that prohibits torture. A Cologne court rescinded Kaplan's status as a political asylum seeker in late August, but prohibited the German authorities from deporting the man.

Cologne Caliphate

Kaplan was the leader of the Islamic organization "Caliphate State." Schily banned the group, which had been suspected of spreading anti-Semitic and anti-American propaganda within Germany's Islamic community, in August 2002. After another "Caliph" established himself in Berlin in 1996, Kaplan told his organization's members the man's "head should be cut off." German police promptly arrested Kaplan after the rival, named Sofu, was shot in front of his family in 1999.

© 2003 DW Online

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