Turkish justice minister says Somali president’s son will be tried

Photos of Yunus Emre Göçer are displayed on motorcycles of couriers in protest of the deadly traffic incident, Istanbul, Türkiye, Dec. 11, 2023. (İHA Photo)
Photos of Yunus Emre Göçer are displayed on motorcycles of couriers in protest of the deadly traffic incident, Istanbul, Türkiye, Dec. 11, 2023. (İHA Photo)


ustice Minister Yılmaz Tunç assuaged the public that Mohamed Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, son of Somalia’s incumbent president, will attend the hearing over the death of a Turkish man in Istanbul in a traffic accident.

Mohamud was driving a Somali consulate car on Nov. 30 when he hit a motorcycle courier. The courier, Yunus Emre Göçer, died about one week after he was seriously injured in the incident. Mohamud left the country on Dec. 2 after a police interrogation. The incident sparked public outcry, and authorities later announced that the police officers first interrogating him were investigated for possible negligence in letting him go. Türkiye issued an arrest warrant for Mohamud after Göçer’s death.

Tunç told reporters on the sidelines of an event in the capital Ankara on Thursday that he discussed the incident with his Somali counterpart and that Somali authorities were approaching the matter “with good intentions.”

“We held meetings with the Somali judicial authorities. In the coming days, the defendant will come to Türkiye and the trial process will take place,” Tunç said, adding he hoped the trial would begin soon.

A Turkish official told Reuters this week that Ankara, which has good ties with Somalia, had sought information from Somali authorities on the issue and the use of a diplomatic car.

“It is our duty to protect the rights of our deceased citizen,” Tunç said. He noted that there were contradictions between two official reports regarding the accident and authorities ordered Mohamud’s release based on the first report. He added that, after the discovery of footage related to the accident, authorities detected that Mohamud was at fault.

“We never allow our citizens to suffer from loss of rights in cases involving foreigners. We are working on the case but it is up to the judiciary to decide on the case,” he said.

On Tuesday, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said that his 40-year-old son did not flee Türkiye. He said he has advised him to go back and present himself to court. The younger Mohamud, who is a doctor, stayed at the scene of the crash and remained in Istanbul for several days afterward, the president said. He also extended his sympathy to Göçer’s family. “I want to take this opportunity to send my condolences to the family, which I don’t know how to contact,” he said in Tuesday’s interview. “We share with them the grief of their loss. We are sorry for their loss.”

Türkiye has built close ties with Somalia since 2011, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minister, visited the East African nation in a show of support as Somalis suffered from severe drought. Türkiye later undertook infrastructure projects and donated relief to Somalia. It also opened a military base in Somalia where it has trained officers and police.

“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,” Somalia’s president said in the interview at United Nations headquarters in New York, where he presented a plan for his government to take over security from African Union troops. “Turkey is a brotherly country,” Mohamud said. “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.” The Associated Press (AP) quoted him saying that his son left Türkiye as he had a business and there was no arrest warrant for him back then. He also told AP that his son was an adult and it was “his decision.”

“Regardless of their title, everyone is equal before the law and the entire process for the capture of the suspect, including the international procedure, is being carried out meticulously,” Tunç tweeted recently.

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