Turkey's Ministry of Justice requested Wednesday the temporary arrest of Sedat Peker from authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where the fugitive Turkish mobster is located, after the global police cooperation body Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest.
The Istanbul Anatolian Public Prosecutor's Office and the Bursa Public Prosecutor's Office, pursuing investigations against Peker, were notified of Interpol's decision to issue a Red Notice starting Feb. 1, 2022, according to the report of Turkish newspaper Sabah's Seda Nur Günaydın.
The statement from Interpol to the prosecutors' offices said that there was a strong criminal suspicion on "establishing organizations for the purpose of committing crimes" and "the crime of looting by taking advantage of the frightening powers created by the presumed criminal organization."
The investigation is related to the complaint of Yusuf Aktaş, the founder and owner of popular roadside meatball restaurant chain Köfteci Yusuf. Aktaş has pressed charges against people that were claimed to have relations with Peker and his criminal network for trying to forcefully sell a slaughterhouse in the Afyonkarahisar province far above its market price and take over his 227-branch chain by force.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who was at the center of Peker's series of allegations issued the last year, had also touched upon the allegations in a televised interview, whereas Peker had rejected that he had anything to do with the chain.
With alleged links to Turkey's long-rumored "deep state" and open pan-Turkic and nationalist views, Peker's name has often made it to the headlines since the early 1990s for establishing a criminal network and various related crimes ranging from murder, assault or extortion. Often regarded among the biggest names of the Turkish underground world, Peker was incarcerated for brief periods before getting arrested on various charges and serving a 9-year prison term between 2005 and 2014.
Peker was also implicated and sentenced in the Ergenekon sham trials launched by the Gülenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ). After his release, he engaged in active political discourse for nearly five years, in addition to becoming a prominent social media personality, gaining a sizeable following.
Initially departing Turkey for Montenegro over a series of investigations in early 2020, Peker is now believed to be in Dubai. Beginning in May 2021, he started releasing videos over YouTube in which he posed as a whistleblower accusing various politicians, businesspeople and journalists of having links to criminal activities including corruption, drug smuggling and unsolved murders among others.
His allegations came at a time when Turkish authorities started tightening the grip around Peker, whereas a court issued an arrest warrant in late May over organized crime charges.
Peker previously stated that he was not being sought through a red notice and thus was safe in the country where he is located. The UAE has so far did not take any steps to send Peker back to Turkey but told him not to release any more YouTube videos, Peker had claimed to Turkish opposition broadcaster Halk TV in September.
Following a long period of silence from Peker's side, his wife Özge Peker shared Tuesday several videos of their family in an undisclosed location, where the mobster is seen in the public surrounded by several men, most probably his aides or bodyguards.
In a thaw in long-strained relations over regional developments and Ankara's accusations to Abu Dhabi for meddling in its internal affairs, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the UAE last week, returning a visit from Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ), earlier in November. It was not immediately clear if Peker's return was discussed in the talks, which mainly focused on improving diplomatic and commercial ties through a series of deals.
Separately, an investigation into the recent murder of Turkish Cypriot tycoon Halil Falyalı proceeds with new evidence showing the leading suspect in the case had met with one of Peker's relatives a day after the assassination.
Accordingly, gang leader Mustafa Söylemez, who was detained on Feb. 10 and arrested Tuesday as part of the investigation into the murder, met with Metin S. at a breakfast place in Istanbul right after his return from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Feb. 9. The meeting between the two was captured on CCTV cameras.
Söylemez then used the phone of Metin S. to speak with his brother Mehmet Faysal Söylemez, and then Metin S. spoke with Sedat Peker on the phone. Metin S., who was detained as part of the investigation on Falyalı murder but was released under judicial control, told in his statement that he spoke with Peker since he was a relative.
Falyalı, a casino and hotel owner with interests in online and allegedly illegal betting, was gunned down near his home in TRNC's Girne (Kyrenia) on late Feb. 8 in an attack that also killed his driver Murat Demirtaş. He was among the figures accused by Peker, who claimed Falyalı secretly videotaped people staying in his hotel, including politicians, to blackmail them.
Mustafa Söylemez and his brother Mehmet Faysal Söylemez, who lead the organized crime group known by the public as the "Söylemez Brothers," first made headlines over 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. Their gang had been subject to multiple trials over years on charges of murder, abduction and corruption in public tenders.