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Turkey has not freed man wanted by Haiti despite court ruling

Businessman Samir Handal [@metesohtaoglu/Twitter]
Businessman Samir Handal [@metesohtaoglu/Twitter]

Turkey has not released a man wanted by Haiti over his alleged involvement in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, his lawyer said on Monday, despite a court rejecting his extradition and ruling he should be freed three weeks ago, reports Reuters.

Moise, a 53-year-old former businessman who took office in 2017, was shot dead in July 2021 at his private residence. His wife was wounded in the attack.

Businessman Samir Handal, a Jordanian national, was detained on an Interpol red notice as he transited through Turkey on his way from the United States to Jordan last November.

His lawyers said the red notice was later suspended at their request pending a final review.

A Turkish court rejected Haiti's extradition request for Handal on July 4 and ruled he should be released.

Lawyer Mahmut Barlas said Turkish authorities had decided to deport Handal following the court ruling but that a travel ban issued this month over the red notice was preventing the deportation.

"My client is illegally being deprived of his liberty based on the falsely argued existence of a red notice," Barlas told Reuters.

"This is an illegal, egregious, and direct violation of Interpol data rules and (the) Turkish Penal Code," Barlas said.

READ: Swedish Supreme Court rejects Turkiye's extradition request

He said Handal had been held in a deportation centre since July 5 and was transferred to Istanbul Airport on July 15 before being returned after the deportation process was halted.

"The travel ban applied without a court order should be lifted immediately," Barlas added.

Interpol did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the status of the red notice against Handal.

Handal has said he only rented a house to Emmanuel Sanon, a suspected mastermind of the assassination, and did not know of any plans to kill Moise.

Handal's lawyers have said he should not be extradited because he would be subject to hard labour in Haiti. They also emphasised the political uncertainty in the country.

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CaribbeanEurope & RussiaHaitiNewsTurkey
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