Missing radical Islamist will report to police
28 May 2004, COLOGNE - A radical Turkish Islamist who disappeared the day a court ruled he could be expelled to Turkey will report to police as required next week, his lawyer said Friday. Police have called off a search for Metin Kaplan, known as the "Caliph of Cologne", after a new court ruling late Thursday enabled Kaplan to stay in Germany for two months while an appeal is heard. An arrest warrant has been withdrawn but 51-year-old Kaplan must report to Cologne police by Tuesday. Lawyer Ingeborg Naumann
28 May 2004
COLOGNE - A radical Turkish Islamist who disappeared the day a court ruled he could be expelled to Turkey will report to police as required next week, his lawyer said Friday.
Police have called off a search for Metin Kaplan, known as the "Caliph of Cologne", after a new court ruling late Thursday enabled Kaplan to stay in Germany for two months while an appeal is heard.
An arrest warrant has been withdrawn but 51-year-old Kaplan must report to Cologne police by Tuesday.
Lawyer Ingeborg Naumann said Kaplan would continue to adhere to terms of previous court rulings and report to police once a week. Kaplan, who Naumann said was suffering from cancer, will "report personally or present a new medical certificate".
Kaplan is still in Cologne and was "on a visit" when police went to arrest him at his apartment Wednesday evening, Naumann said.
A Europe-wide search had been ordered Thursday for Kaplan amid political embarrassment of the failure to keep track of the Moslem leader after a court in Muenster ruled he could be expelled to Turkey.
However the police manhunt was called off after a court in Cologne said Kaplan could not be expelled for the next two months.
Kaplan faces treason charges in Turkey. He has been fighting against his deportation, arguing that he would not receive a fair trial there. His legal counsel also maintains he is unfit to travel.
North Rhine-Westphalia's Interior Minister Fritz Behrens has rejected calls to resign over the affair and denied any blame for the police failure to detain Kaplan. The disappearance was "an unfortunate occurrence", he told German television.
Police also denied any blame, saying they had acted within the law and had no legal authority to enter Kaplan's apartment until an arrest warrant had been issued.
In Berlin, Interior Ministry spokesman Rainer Lingenthal, citing secrecy laws, declined to comment on alleged police blunders.
But in an apparent veiled criticism, he noted: "We cannot behave in a lax manner with extremists."
Lingenthal said if Kaplan failed to report to police by Tuesday he could face up to one year in prison.
"There is nothing to indicate he will not (report to police)," said Lingenthal, adding however: "I don't know if Kaplan has disappeared."
Political leaders have described the affair as an embarrassment.
Greens parliamentary home affairs spokeswoman Silke Stokar said it had been "a disaster" for security authorities. While politicians debated tougher security laws authorities had not been in a position to put into effect a deportation ruling, she said.
The German police union criticized the state interior ministry. "The Kaplan case shows the helplessness in our state in fighting terrorism," police union chairman Konrad Freiberg told NDR radio.
Opposition Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel said a planned new immigration law would make it easier to deport people like Kaplan.
Instead of going through various courts, a deportation would be decided directly by the Supreme Administrative Court, she said.
Kaplan has served four years prison in Germany for incitement to murder. After his jail term, German authorities began proceedings to deport him to Turkey.
He arrived in Germany in 1982 as an asylum-seeker. In 1995 he assumed the leadership of the "Caliphate State" group - now banned by the authorities - from his father.
In an ensuing power struggle with a rival, Ibrahim Sofu, Kaplan had urged his followers to kill Sofu.
Sofu was murdered by unknown assailants in Berlin in 1997.
Subject: German news