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Turkey: Somali president's son will stand trial over fatal road crash in Istanbul

Turkish justice minister says Mohamed Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will return to Turkey after killing a motorcyclist
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud looks on during a welcoming ceremony before talks with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on September 15, 2022. (AFP)
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has supported Turkey's decision to put his son on trial (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

The Somali president’s son, who killed a motorcycle courier in a collision in Istanbul last month, will return to Turkey and face trial, Turkish Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said on Thursday. 

Turkish media reported that Mohamed Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, son of Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, hit Yunus Emre Gocer, 36, with a diplomatic car registered with Somalia's embassy on 30 November near the Aksaray neighbourhood of Istanbul.

The initial police report suggested that Mohamud wasn’t at fault, paving the way for his release and his unimpeded exit from the country on 2 December. The final report, however, indicates that Mohamud was primarily responsible for the accident.

Istanbul's chief prosecutor ordered Mohamud's arrest, then discovered he had already left the country. 

Tunc said that due to a discrepancy between the reports, the case was now referred to the forensic medicine institute.

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“We contacted the relevant judicial authorities in Somalia, and in the coming days the defendant will come to Turkey and participate in the trial,” Tunc said.

“We will follow this through to the end. I have personally discussed this matter with the Somali minister of justice. They have also looked at the incident with goodwill on the Somali side. Hopefully, the trial process will start in the near future.” 

The Turkish political opposition, specifically the mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, has criticised the handling of the case, accusing the government of not protecting its citizens.

A Turkish source familiar with the government told Middle East Eye earlier this week that Ankara was troubled by the incident, especially the opposition’s insinuation that Mohamud was allowed to leave due to his father’s political connections with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Instead, the source suggested, it was the low-level police officers' fault, as they prepared an unsubstantiated incident report that led to the scandal. 

The Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office said earlier this week that an official inquiry had been launched into the police officers who handled the case. 

'I will do everything that I can to make sure that my son respects Turkish law and justice'

- Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somali president

Mohamud does not have diplomatic immunity under the circumstances, legal experts and diplomatic sources told MEE. 

The Somalian president also told the media that he wants his son to go back and face a trial in Turkey. 

“I will do everything that I can to make sure that my son respects Turkish law and justice law, and stands in front of the courts in Turkey,” the president told Associated Press on Wednesday. 

“Turkey is a brotherly country,” Mohamud added. “We respect the laws and the justice and the judicial system. As a president of Somalia, I will never allow anybody to violate this country’s judicial system."

Turkey has cultivated strong connections with Somalia since 2011, marked by a significant visit from then-Prime Minister Erdogan, who later became president.  The visit was a statement of support during a period of severe drought in Somalia.

Turkey has actively contributed by delivering humanitarian assistance to Somalia, constructing essential infrastructure, and establishing a military base in the country, through which Turkey has played a pivotal role in training Somali military officers and police forces.

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