TURK­ISH ‘FUGI­TIVES’ BUY ARMS COM­PANY

CityPress - - News - ERIKA GIB­SON news@city­press.co.za

Turk­ish cit­i­zens sought by their govern­ment for al­leged ter­ror­ism back home, have man­aged to buy an arms man­u­fac­turer with­out the South African govern­ment know­ing about it.

Jeff Radebe, min­is­ter in the pres­i­dency and chair­per­son of the Na­tional Con­ven­tional Arms Con­trol Com­mit­tee (NCACC), told City Press’ sis­ter news­pa­per, Rap­port, this week that the govern­ment was not aware of the in­volve­ment of Turks in the arms man­u­fac­turer Milkor.

Milkor Ar­moured Ve­hi­cles, based in north­ern Pre­to­ria, was not reg­is­tered with the NCACC at all, Radebe said.

But de­spite the fact that arms firms have to be reg­is­tered with the NCACC to ob­tain mar­ket­ing per­mits, Milkor is al­ready ad­ver­tis­ing ar­moured ve­hi­cles on its web­site.

Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity spokesper­son Lu­vuyo Mfaku said its pri­or­ity lit­i­ga­tion unit that in­ves­ti­gates crimes against the state is aware of the al­le­ga­tions.

“Hawks in­ves­ti­ga­tors who spe­cialise in this sort of case will help with any in­ves­ti­ga­tion. But it’s still at an ini­tial stage,” said Mfaku.

A storm broke out in Turkey this week when the govern­ment-friendly Daily Sabah news­pa­per re­ported that fugi­tives had man­aged to smug­gle $500 mil­lion (R6.6 bil­lion) into South Africa.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan has em­barked on a mas­sive “clean-up” op­er­a­tion dur­ing which thou­sands of peo­ple have been charged with var­i­ous crimes after a failed mil­i­tary coup last year.

An es­ti­mated 16 000 peo­ple are now in de­ten­tion for al­legedly be­ing sym­pa­this­ers of US-based cleric Fethul­lah Gülen, whom Er­doğan ac­cuses of be­ing be­hind the failed coup.

Kaan Esener, Turkey’s for­mer am­bas­sador to South Africa and the Turk­ish deputy min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs, told the Daily Sabah that a num­ber of Turks based in South Africa, in­clud­ing Vus­lat Bayo­glu, were fugi­tives in that coun­try and were wanted for their in­volve­ment in the al­leged ter­ror group.

Bayo­glu is the direc­tor of var­i­ous coal min­ing com­pa­nies. He has a South African ID num­ber and has res­i­dency in the coun­try.

His brother, Ser­hat Bayo­glu, to­gether with Raci Yetis, are di­rec­tors of an in­vest­ment com­pany that bought Milkor last year, to­gether with a lo­cal com­pany.

Ser­hat Bayo­glu and Yetis are Turk­ish cit­i­zens.

Milkor also last year ac­quired the arms man­u­fac­turer N4/Panzer. The name was changed to Milkor Ar­moured Ve­hi­cles.

Ac­cord­ing to a Turk­ish di­plo­mat, the group’s in­volve­ment in arms man­u­fac­tur­ing is cause for se­ri­ous con­cern. It is un­der­stood that Milkor was bought for R25 mil­lion.

Vus­lat Bayo­glu’s le­gal ad­viser, Emma Sadleir, said her client was “sur­prised” by the “false al­le­ga­tions” made in Turkey.

“Our client has never heard of the ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion [Fe­tul­lah] that is named in the re­port.

“Our client re­jects ter­ror­ism, ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions and acts of ter­ror. He has never been in­volved in any form of ter­ror­ism and does not sup­port it.

“Our client has also never been ques­tioned by South African au­thor­i­ties.”

Vus­lat Bayo­glu said Milkor was his brother’s un­der­tak­ing and he was not in­volved in it.

But ac­cord­ing to Milkor em­ploy­ees, he was the one who ad­dressed per­son­nel as the new owner when the com­pany was taken over.

Vus­lat Bayo­glu couldn’t ex­plain the al­le­ga­tions made by the for­mer am­bas­sador be­cause “the am­bas­sador knows me”.

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