Three people arrested on Wednesday evening in Istanbul are being questioned by police over the murder of Halil Falyalı, a Turkish Cypriot businessperson gunned down near his home in Girne (Kyrenia) in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Tuesday.
Suspects include Mustafa Söylemez, known as the head of a gang carrying his last name that also includes his relatives. The others were reportedly Söylemez’s men. Another suspect was detained in Turkish Cyprus on Wednesday.
Falyalı was traveling with a motorcade when unknown assailants opened fire on his car. His driver was also killed in the attack. Media reports said that the assailants knew all the details about Falyalı’s daily routine and even knew which car he traveled in. The businessperson was reportedly traveling in a car without armor, while his wife and two children were in an armored car behind his, when an assailant's car blocked the road and gunmen fired pistols first and then automatic weapons.
Falyalı was buried in his hometown in TRNC’s Iskele district at a crowded funeral on Thursday.
The victim was a well-known name on the island with investments in various sectors, including a hotel and casino. He had been mired in controversy in recent years with media outlets claiming Falyalı, a former bodyguard for an alleged mobster, was involved in the illegal betting business. He was imprisoned last year in a case involving alleged assault on a former employee and was released in December.
Mustafa Söylemez had become a publicly known figure after his name was included in a report on the notorious Susurluk scandal of the 1990s, where a seemingly random traffic accident shed light on an alleged "deep state" of underworld figures, bureaucrats and police chiefs. Söylemez and his gang, mostly comprised of his brothers and relatives, had been subject to multiple trials over years on charges of murder, abduction and corruption in public tenders.