Ot­toman sul­tan’s heirs seek to re­claim land

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - National - ALİ OKTAY - SABAH

IN A court bat­tle, some 100 peo­ple claim­ing in­her­i­tance to the 34th Ot­toman sul­tan, Ab­dül­hamid II, are seek­ing the re­in­state­ment of the late monarch’s prop­er­ties in Is­tan­bul to them.

A court in Is­tan­bul or­dered the ap­point­ment of an ex­pert to cal­cu­late the shares of each plain­tiff in the case seek­ing a claim among the 7,756 ti­tle deeds. The judges also or­dered the prose­cu­tors to in­ves­ti­gate the pos­si­ble forgery of some in­her­i­tance claims. The plain­tiffs will be en­ti­tled to the deeds based on the prox­im­ity of their re­la­tion to the de­posed sul­tan. Still, the re­turn of the prop­er­ties re­quires the gov­ern­ment’s ap­proval even if the court or­ders it.

The le­gal process was started seven years ago by 32 peo­ple claim­ing to be the descendants of the sul­tan. Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial records, Ab­dül­hamid II held ti­tle deeds to 7,756 prop­er­ties in mod­ern day Turkey and abroad. His land in Turkey en­com­passed more than 1.2 mil­lion square me­ters. After the law­suit was filed, the num­ber of those claim­ing in­her­i­tance swelled to 250, but 150 later with­drew from the law­suit after fail­ing to prove their claim to the in­her­i­tance.

Among the prop­er­ties in Is­tan­bul owned by the sul­tan is a small is­land, land where a pop­u­lar the­ater now sits, land of a for­mer mil­i­tary base, land where a horse race­track was built fol­low­ing his death, a sea­side man­sion, a fac­tory and a num­ber of plots in mod­ern day Is­tan­bul’s up­scale dis­tricts from Or­taköy to Beykoz.

Ab­dül­hamid II was one of the last of the strong sul­tans of the Ot­toman Em­pire, which was de­clin­ing be­fore he as­cended the throne. He ruled for 33 years, from 1876 to 1909, be­fore he was de­throned.

The House of Os­man’s descendants were forced to scat­ter around the world after the col­lapse of the em­pire and were sent into ex­ile start­ing in 1924.

In 1952, fe­male mem­bers of the dy­nasty were granted amnesty and the men were al­lowed to re­turn to Turkey in 1974. Yet, few re­turned to Turkey, as most of them had al­ready built new lives after liv­ing abroad for decades.

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