Turkey opens probe into extradition of Egyptian facing execution

Published 06.02.2019 13:46

Turkey will investigate the deportation of an Egyptian facing execution in Cairo over alleged involvement in a car bombing and has suspended eight policemen involved, the Istanbul governor's office said Wednesday.

"A commission has been charged by the governorship under the chairmanship of the deputy governor for the examination and investigation of the extradition process of the Egyptian Mohamed Abdelhafiz Ahmed Hussein to his country," a statement said.

At the recommendation of the investigator and with the approval of the Governor's Office, eight police officers from the passport control branch of directorate of security at Atatürk Airport were removed from their offices, according to the governorship.

Hussein, whom the Muslim Brotherhood movement identifies as a member, was among 28 people sentenced in absentia to death in July 2017 for killing Egypt's public prosecutor in the attack, according to state media.

He was sent back to Egypt on Jan. 18 from Istanbul's main Atatürk airport on arrival from Somalia for not having a visa, despite requesting political asylum.

The case adds to strained Turkey-Egypt relations since the army ousted Egypt's first democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi, following mass protests against his rule in 2013. Turkey has been critical of Morsi's ouster, describing his overthrow as a military coup.

The Istanbul governor's office said Tuesday that when Hussein arrived, there was no information he was facing trial anywhere, and he did not request protection, so officials deemed him an "unacceptable passenger" due to lack of a Turkish visa.

An adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said it was wrong to repatriate anyone facing charges in Egypt and the matter needed checking.

"During the leadership of (Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah) el-Sissi Sissi, Turkey has not and does not hand over anyone facing the death penalty or any other charges," Turkish newspaper Yeni Şafak quoted Yasin Aktay as saying Wednesday.

Defendants sentenced in absentia in Egypt are automatically retried once they are captured or turn themselves in.

Sources in Egypt's National Security Service said Hussein was questioned and moved to jail ahead of his retrial after arriving in Egypt.

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