DPA (Germany), May 27, 2003
DUESSELDORF – In a stunning slap against Turkey, a court in Germany Tuesday turned down a request to extradite a controversial Islamic radical from Germany to Turkey to stand trial on an array of terrorism charges.
The court sided with lawyers for Metin Kaplan, the Islamist known as the “Caliph of Cologne”, who had argued he would face “intolerable human-rights abuses” were he to be extradited to Turkey.
Turkish authorities accuse Kaplan of bombing the Ataturk Museum and ordering the occupation of a mosque.
Kaplan finished serving a four-year sentence for incitement to murder in March. Since then he had been in pre-extradition detention in Duesseldorf. A Duesseldorf jail spokesman said Kaplan was released immediately after the court ruling was announced Tuesday.
The German government dropped its original opposition to extraditing him that had been based on the risk that he faced a penalty, death, that is banned in Germany. Turkey’s parliament had subsequently passed a resolution to eliminate the death penalty.
Last year a German court affirmed the 2001 ban on Kaplan’s German organization because it opposes democracy and does not recognize German law.
Reports say that despite doctrinal differences, Kaplan has had links with terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
Turkish prosecutors wanted to try Kaplan for treason, as he sought the overthrow of the Turkish state and its replacement by a caliphate or religious government with himself as caliph.
Kaplan’s jail term was for calling in a sermon for a man to be put to death. The victim was duly murdered in May 1997. The two killers were never caught.