‘Plethora of grounds’ to stop extradition

| 04/04/2017 | 19 Comments
Cayman News Service

Celal Kildag

(CNS): The lawyer defending German citizen Celal Kildag, who was arrested in Cayman on an Interpol warrant on behalf of Turkey when he was visiting the island by cruise ship last year, has argued that there are “a plethora of grounds” why the extradition should be stopped and the man allowed to return home. It is now some 29 years since the alleged offences of murder and arson stated on the warrant, and in Summary Court Tuesday, Laurence Ailofi argued that the passage of time alone should be enough to halt the proceedings, as he outlined a strong case of potential prejudice.

Aiolfi, from the local firm McGrath Tonner, said it would be both “unjust and oppressive” to allow the extradition to proceed, arguing there was no way that Kildag could possibly receive a fair trial after all this time, given the weakness of the case and because the documentary evidence and memories that could prove his alibi are long gone.

Kildag, who is a Turkish ethnic Kurd, is accused by the authorities there of being a member of a separatist Kurdish terrorist group, the PKK, and that he and other people took part in a murder and arson attack in the country in 1988. As the Cayman director of public prosecutions (DPP) presented the case for extradition on behalf of Turkey, the court heard that numerous questions put to the authorities in Turkey about the case had not been fully answered.

But in his own evidence, supported by his wife and some limited documentation, Kildag outlined his own story though a German interpreter. The court heard that he left Turkey in 1980 because of the persecution by the authorities against Kurds. He revealed how many other Kurdish people had been murdered, tortured and disappeared in Turkey during the years he lived in Germany and he had followed events in the press.

He told the court that in the mid 1980’s he had attended a peaceful demonstration in his local town in Germany about the oppression of Kurds in Turkey. His name and photograph had appeared in the papers there, which could be why he was targeted in the false allegation. However, Kildag categorically stated that he was not a member of the PKK and had never supported the organisation.

He was granted asylum in Germany, where he settled, married, had two children, found work and made a peaceful life for his family. He has no criminal record and has never returned to Turkey because he always believed that if he did, he would be persecuted. He remained unaware that the Turkish authorities had accused him of any crimes until two years ago. At that time a request was made to the German authorities for his extradition for these alleged crimes, which happened in a village he did not know and had never visited, involving people he had never met or heard of. 

After Germany refused the extradition, Kildag assumed that the issue was over and that he was safe to resume his life in safety and travel as normal, until he was arrested when his shipped docked here, the first port of call after he and his family had traveled freely to Cuba, where the cruise began. 

The court heard that at the time of the alleged offences Kildag had already married. His first child was 17 months old and his wife was several months pregnant with their second child. She testified that her husband had never left the family at that time for any period. She told the court how she had searched very hard to get documents to show that he was in Germany at the time of the alleged offence but after almost thirty years it proved extremely difficult because the German authorities said the records no longer existed.

However, his wife was able to get confirmation from the German driving licence authorities that Kildag was enrolled in an intensive driving course between March and June of 1988, the year in question, and that he had taken and passed the country’s driving exams successfully at the end of it, though they could not confirm the exact dates of the classes. At the time he was still going through the political asylum process and therefore he had asylum travel documents but did not have a full German passport.

The authorities in Turkey claim that it was during this time, when he was settling into life in Germany, had a young family and was learning to drive, that he travelled clandestinely from Germany back to the country where he already had a well-founded fear of persecution, made his way to a remote village that he had never been to, committed an act of murder and arson at a school with a group of people he did not know, and then returned to Germany clandestinely and got on with his life.

Aiolfi pointed out that the Turkish authorities had issued an indictment in the case two years after the crimes were said to have occurred, but it was not until 2014 that an international arrest warrant was raised and not until 2015 that an extradition claim was made, even though Kaldig was able to demonstrate that the Turkish authorities knew he had been in Germany since 1990 when his asylum claim was confirmed. 

He told the court that he had also spoken with the Turkish police a few years later when his brother was arrested trying to leave Turkey to join him in Germany. The authorities did not tell him then that he was wanted and there was no mention of the allegations. After he spoke with the police, they released his brother, allowing him to leave Turkey.

Aiolfi argued that the Turkish authorities were culpable in their failure to notify Kildag of the accusations and their response to the DPP here about the delay was not much more than “gobbledygook”. He told the court that they had not addressed several of the questions put to them, and that after 29 years, a case based entirely on the say of one witness regarding identification was extremely prejudicial. 

Pointing to time-lines as an argument against extradition, Aiolfi cited cases where just a seven-year time lapse had been enough to stop proceedings. In this case, he argued that 29 years was extreme and none of the lawyers involved in the case had been able to find a single extradition case that came close to such a long period of time.

The case will now be considered by Magistrate Grace Donalds, who can stop the proceedings based on today’s presentations if she feels that the “passage of time argument” has been made.

If not, the case will go to the last stage of the process, where the defence will argue the human rights and other issues surrounding the case, such as the paucity of evidence and the questions about sending a person who has been granted political asylum back to the country where he had a well-founded fear of persecution even before the charges were made against him.

The magistrate’s decision is expected Wednesday morning.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Willkommen zu Hause………..

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank God that justice has been served. What he now needs to do is sue the CI Government to get reimbursed for the debt his family had to go into in order to ensure received a fair trial. This was a open and closed case from the get go, in my view what I can’t understand why Cayman got involved in the first place?

    • Diogenes says:

      Because they are obliged to enforce international arrest warrants as a result of the UK being a member of Interpol. Mr Kildag has no basis for suing Cayman. He has a basis for suing the Turkish government who issued the warrant then couldn’t stand it up, but good luck with that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This case only happened, when you have a Governor, who has the experience and training of a middle class Civil Servant, with no diplomatic experience what ever is in charge!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Some really wicked shit took place here. Look back over the facts as to how he was identified and arrested. Secret services of apparently benign nations can find a dissenter in a haystack, but cannot be bothered to find real terrorists who are funded by their own mischievous globalist governments.
    This speaks volumes about our pathetic politicians and the iron fist of our colonial taskmasters.
    Never a truer word was spoken than when someone said “the whole world lies in wickedness.”
    We have no choice about being in this world, but we bloody well should not be a part of that wickedness.
    This whole thing stinks like a rotting corpse on a summer’s day.
    Isn’t it funny how none of our so-called statesmen have a word to say on this? It shows how weak they really are. We have no democracy here.
    This man left his country for a reason and the fact that he has not returned to its evil-infested shores speaks volumes.
    A very close family member of mine is from Turkey and she won’t be going back either.
    There are millions of decent Turks who have fled their own government and have integrated into Western European culture, unlike the rapists from some countries who get a free rein from those who shall remain nameless.
    Screw the secret services and screw their dishonest governments. Erdogan is a spiteful, wicked individual and he is covertly supported by our own governments.
    Hell will need to be enlarged to hold them all.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If Germany, where this man has lived for decades, has refused to extradite him why on earth is Cayman even considering this?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Tens of thousands of Kurds have been tortured and/or murdered over the years and the Turkish Government only gets away with it because the Kurds are a minority. Let us not forget the ethnic cleansing that occurred early in the last century.Extraditing this man will mean sentencing him to life imprisonment if not death. The British Goverment pardoned all the Irish terrorists/murderers in the quest for peace. Let Cayman stand up for the rights of Mr Kildag and let him return to Germany.

  7. Anonymous says:

    You can’t send him back to Turkey- Erdogan continues to show his dictator strategies

  8. Trump says:

    We should not be overly concerned. Trump will be waiting on him to do a trade off.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You people forget that there was and probably still is a warrant for his arrest. let the court do its job. What if this man was a real terrorist then what?? guess we should let him go too..

  10. Just Sayin' says:

    Those eyebrows are a crime in themselves.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This case should be thrown out based on the evidence provided. There is no reason to continue holding this man here based on flagrantly absurd charges from Turkey, a government that is completely insane.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ikr, Turkey is basically the capital of terrorism now with it’s own government run by extremist.

  12. Observer says:

    Give this man his ticket money and get him on his way.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Stop wasting money and time and let this man go back to Germany!

  14. Michel says:

    He should be allowed to travel to Germany and resume his life.

  15. Anonymous says:

    If Magistrate Grace Donalds doesnt have enough to render a fair decision nothing will. Is there a more open and shut case than this? Enough, let the guy go, this is absurd!

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