A 52-year-old German citizen of Kurdish origin, who was arrested on an Interpol warrant on Wednesday in Kostanje, southern Croatia, inland from the coastal town of Omis, has been placed in custody in Split pending extradition to Turkey.
An investigating judge at Split County Court has set bail at EUR 50,000, which has been appealed by both the defence and the county prosecutor.
The defence lawyer Tihomir Misic said on Thursday that the only reason why he appealed was the amount of the bail, while the prosecution said that the bail was too low.
Misic told Hina that his client, Murat Catulay, had lived in Germany for 25 years and had not been to Turkey during that time. "It is important to note that he is a German citizen without dual citizenship. He came to Germany from Turkey 25 years ago and was granted asylum as a political refugee. (...) All these years he travelled around Germany freely and never had any trouble," Misic said.
The lawyer said that the Germans had certainly made the necessary background checks before granting citizenship to his client. He also noted that the Interpol warrant had been out for years and that the Germans could have acted on it if they had found any grounds.
"In Turkey, people who carry firearms and journalists who write against the government are equally treated as terrorists and enemies of the state," Misic said.
The lawyer revealed that the Split County Court would decide on extradition after receiving the necessary documentation from the Turkish court that issued the arrest warrant. He said that the extradition would not be possible because it would be in violation of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
"Being Kurdish, he would definitely be put in a degrading position in relation to others in Turkey. He would certainly be subjected to torture, as can be inferred from several rulings handed down by the (Turkish) Supreme Court. Given that he fled Turkey as a refugee and was granted asylum in Germany, his extradition would also be against the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. There exist a series of obstacles to his extradition," Misic said.
Because Catulay is a worker and does not have the 50,000 euros for the bail, his family will try to raise the money in the coming days. His wife and children will stay in Kostanje for a few more days after which she has to return to Germany for work.
Catulay is accused of involvement in several terrorist attacks across Turkey between 1989 and 2001 as an activist of a terrorist organisation known as TIKKO (the Turkish Liberation Army of Workers and Peasants), a military wing of the Turkish Communist Party. He is facing a sentence of life imprisonment in Turkey.