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INTERPOL issues Red Notice for fugitive suspect in 2002 murder of Turkish academic

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INTERPOL has issued a Red Notice at Turkey’s request for a suspect in the murder of a Turkish academic in 2002, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The Red Notice was issued for retired colonel Mustafa Levent Göktaş, a former member of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) elite Special Forces Command.

Turkey submitted a Red Notice request for Göktaş to the INTERPOL General Secretariat on Aug. 27.

Necip Hablemitoğlu, an academic in the history department of Ankara University, was killed on Jan. 18, 2002 in front of his house in Ankara.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in June issued arrest warrants for nine people in connection with the academic’s murder. Seven of them, including retired military officers, were arrested by the Ankara Police, while a manhunt was underway to capture Göktaş and another retired colonel, Tan Dervişoğlu.

Both Göktaş and Dervişoğlu were reported to have fled abroad.

Göktaş faces charges of premeditated murder and membership in a criminal organization.

Hablemitoğlu was known for his research and books on the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by Ankara of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, the movement denies any involvement in the coup. Despite the group’s denial, Ankara launched a massive crackdown on the movement, arresting tens of thousands.

The Gülen movement has time and again been framed in conspiracy theories about Hablemitoğlu’s murder; yet after the 2016 coup attempt, these theories turned into an indictment that accuses FETÖ, a derogatory acronym coined by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen group as a terrorist organization, of the murder.

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