15 October 2004
German Interior Minister Schily describes the extradition of Kaplan to Turkey as 'the symbol of a democracy that is able to protect itself'
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
German Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily said yesterday that he was pleased by the extradition of Islamic militant Metin Kaplan to Turkey, adding that he believed Kaplan would have a fair trial here.
Turkey has been seeking the extradition of Kaplan by Germany on charges of treason in connection with a 1998 plot to crash an explosives-laden aircraft into the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish state.
Kaplan's extradition was one of the cases in which Turkey encountered difficulties because of the death penalty stipulated in its Penal Code. Turkey eliminated it from the Turkish Penal Code in 2002 as a part of its harmonization process with the European Union.
The Cologne Administrative Court ruled that Kaplan, dubbed the "Caliph of Cologne" for having founded a now-banned group called the Kalifatstaat (Caliphate State), was a figure with whom Islamic extremists could identify and that it was therefore necessary to put an end to his stay in Germany.
Schily, speaking to Germany-based television station ZDF yesterday, said Turkish authorities had promised the German government a fair trial for Kaplan. "I'm sure they will stick to these assurances," he was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.
Schily earlier described the extradition of Kaplan as "the symbol of a democracy that is able to protect itself." In addition to Schily, Bavarian Interior Minister Gunther Beckstein and North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Fritz Behrens also voiced pleasure about the extradition of Kaplan.
"The state is taking a clear stand -- those who are against our legal and constitutional foundation have no place in our country," Schily was quoted as saying by Anatolia. He added that he was sure similar cases could be settled more swiftly in the future.
While Behrens described the decision as a success of a state of law and politics, Beckstein said he was very pleased about the decision.
Beckstein also said he didn't believe Kaplan would be tortured in Turkey; however, he could still appeal in Turkey against the extradition decision, adding that he didn't think Kaplan would want to return to Germany.
"We were having a difficult time coping with Kaplan's efforts to stay in Germany by means of several court decisions," Beckstein told German Bayerische Rundfunk radio station.
Following Schily's statements about accelerating the procedural process for similar cases, Anatolia reported yesterday that Cologne authorities had opened an investigation into three of Kaplan's followers who had resisted the police during Kaplan's arrest on Monday. They were released after a police interrogation.
A spokesman from the Cologne Administrative Court said Kaplan had faxed a petition of complaint prior to his extradition, but the court received it only after the decision was announced, Anatolia said. "However, the petition would not have effected a change in the decision," he was quoted as saying by the agency. The court is due to rule on Kaplan's appeal early in December.
14 October 2004