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Somali president's son flees Turkey after fatal Istanbul accident

Saturday December 9, 2023


Istanbul (HOL) - Mohammed Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, son of Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has reportedly fled Turkey in the aftermath of a fatal traffic accident in Istanbul's Fatih district that resulted in the death of a motorcycle courier. According to Turkish media citing police reports, Mohammed Hassan's vehicle collided with courier Yunus Emre Göçer on November 30.

The collision critically injured Gocer, who was thrown into the air upon impact. Despite prompt medical treatment, Göçer , a father of two, succumbed to his injuries on December 6. Police reports indicate that Gocer adhered to traffic rules, placing primary fault on Mohammed Hassan. Police say he was driving a car which reportedly belonged to the Somali consulate there.

Following initial investigations, Mohammed Hassan was released without bail. However, after the courier's death and Mohammed Hassan's subsequent departure from Turkey, an international arrest warrant was issued. Istanbul Public Prosecutor's Office issued an international travel ban for Mohammed Hassan Sheikh Mohmud five days after he left Turkey and an arrest warrant six days later. Reports confirm that Mohammed Hassan left Turkey on December 2, evading law enforcement. 

This incident has drawn criticism from local officials. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu condemned the failure to detain Mohammed Hassan, highlighting the increased suffering of Göçer 's family and criticizing the leniency that allowed Mohammed Hassan's departure.

Yaz Çimen, the Göçer family's attorney, alleged that a chain of negligence allowed the president's son to flee Turkey. Çimen detailed their pursuit of justice, marred by dismissive responses at both the Aksaray Police Station and the prosecutor's office, as well as difficulties in obtaining accident footage. Çimen told Turkish media that a first traffic police report on the crash blamed the victim for "negligence." They eventually acquired a clear copy the same evening Mohamud left the country. A second expert's report with video recordings showed that the Somali suspect was "100 percent responsible", the lawyer said, but it added doubts he would "ever be caught."

The accident initially received minimal media attention. It was first highlighted by "MotoKurye-Haber Yorum," a social media account focused on motor couriers, and gained further notice following a parliamentary inquiry by HEDEP Istanbul deputy Cengiz Çiçek. Public awareness significantly increased when numerous motor couriers protested at Göçer's funeral, drawing attention to the event and societal indifference.

No response has been received from the Somali President or his office regarding the incident or the arrest warrant.

This development occurs amid Turkey's growing influence in Somalia, characterized by substantial economic and infrastructural investments. Turkey has emerged as a critical partner in Somalia's development, notably in construction, education, health, and military training, especially since its aid during Somalia's 2011 famine. Analysts worry that incident, involving a high-profile Somali figure, may affect the strengthening of the Turkey-Somalia relationship. 


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