Trial continues in Istanbul of 'Caliph of Cologne'

4th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

4 April 2005, ANKARA - The trial continued on Monday of the self-styled 'Caliph of Cologne', Metin Kaplan, who faces life imprisonment, with prosecutors once again accusing the radical Islamic cleric of high treason, the Anadolu news agency reported.

4 April 2005

ANKARA - The trial continued on Monday of the self-styled 'Caliph of Cologne', Metin Kaplan, who faces life imprisonment, with prosecutors once again accusing the radical Islamic cleric of high treason, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Kaplan again pleaded not guilty before the three judges of the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court.

The cleric is accused of being behind a 1998 plot to fill a light plane with explosives and crash it into the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern secular Turkish republic, on a day when the country's top military and political leaders would have been gathered there for national day ceremonies.

Prosecutors have officially charged him with "trying to topple the constitutional order by force."

In bizarre testimony on Monday, Kaplan said he had recently written to the late Pope John Paul II calling on him to convert to Islam.

The trial was adjourned and will resume on 30 May when defence lawyers will give their final statements.

Kaplan was extradited from Germany last year where he had headed the now banned Hilafet Devleti (Caliphate State). He had previously served a prison sentence for ordering the murder of a rival for the head of the organization, Halil Ibrahim Sofu.

His extradition was only allowed after Turkey promised that Kaplan would face a fair trial and would not be subjected to a possible death sentence. Turkey last year completely abolished capital punishment.

The murder trial in Germany heard evidence that Kaplan's group sought Islamic sharia law for Turkey and had sent money to Moslem fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya.

DPA

Subject: German news

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