Somali president's son testifies in Turkey over fatal motorcycle crash

The son of Somalia’s president testified at an Istanbul court on Friday about the death of a motorcycle courier in the city, Turkish media reported.

An arrest warrant had been issued for Mohammed Hassan Sheikh Mohamud after a diplomatic car he was driving allegedly hit Yunus Emre Gocer, 38, on a highway in Istanbul on Nov. 30. Gocer died in a hospital six days later, by which time Mohamud had left Turkey.

Turkish Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said last month that he had discussed the case with his Somalian counterpart to arrange Mohamud’s return.

SOMALIA’S PRESIDENT SAYS HIS SON DIDN’T FLEE FATAL ACCIDENT IN TURKEY AND SHOULD RETURN TO COURT

The private Demiroren News Agency reported that the arrest warrant and a travel ban were revoked after Mohamud gave a statement at Caglayan courthouse. He was then released by the court, the agency said.

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The private Demiroren News Agency says the court revoked the arrest warrant and a travel ban after Mohammed Hassan Sheikh Mohamud gave his statement.

Mohamud offered no plea, instead repeating the statement he gave immediately after the crash saying the courier was at fault, Demiroren reported.

An indictment prepared by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office calls for a prison sentence of two to six years for “causing death by negligence.” It was unclear when any future hearing would be held.

The death had threatened to sour friendly relations between Turkey and Somalia. Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul and a prominent opposition politician, accused the government of “being too weak to defend the rights of its own citizens.”

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Turkey launched an investigation into officials who conducted the initial crash investigation and reportedly allowed Mohamud to go free.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told The Associated Press last month that his 40-year-old son, who is a doctor, did not flee Turkey and said he had advised him to present himself to court.

“Turkey is a brotherly country,” the president 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.”

Turkey 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. Turkey has provided humanitarian aid, built infrastructure and opened a military base in Somalia where it has trained officers and police.

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