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Fugitive Turkish bus baron arrested in Georgia for illegal purchase, possession of drugs

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A fugitive millionaire Turkish businessman who fled Turkey after being sentenced to life in prison for soliciting murder has been arrested in Georgia for “illegal purchase and possession of a particularly large amount of drugs,” local media reported on Thursday, citing Georgia Today.

Galip Öztürk, the 57-year-old founder of Turkish intercity bus company Metro Turizm and a staunch defender of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, fled to Georgia after an appeals court in 2018 upheld his life sentence related to a 1996 murder.

As Metro’s honorary chairman, Özturk currently has no executive position but owns a 0.07 percent stake, Bloomberg said in a report on Wednesday, citing a statement from the company.

After being detained in Batumi on May 31, Öztürk was arrested on Thursday, with the police finding 7.2 kilograms of cocaine in his house.

“Within the framework of the investigation conducted by the Investigative Service of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia into alleged cases of tax evasion, production and use of false documents and money laundering, [and] as a result of the search of G.O.’s apartment in Batumi on the basis of a court warrant, a particularly large amount of drugs, 7.2159 grams of cocaine, was seized on May 31. Law enforcers arrested G.O. the same day,” a statement released by the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia said, according to Georgia Today.

Following the development, Turkish Workers’ Party (TİP) İstanbul lawmaker Ahmet Şık posted photos of Öztürk with President Erdoğan and Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s former finance minister and Erdoğan’s son-in-law, saying, “Why does every drug dealer have a photo with a government official?”

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