Four nabbed for killing Azeri mafia chief in Istanbul
Çetin Aydın/Fırat Alkaç – ISTANBUL
Istanbul police on Aug. 19 detained three Azerbaijanis, H.T, A.N, Z.İ., and one Turk, T.C., suspected of having links to the attack on the Russian-Azerbaijani mafia boss who was killed early on Aug. 18 in Istanbul.
The dead body of 41-year-old Rovshan Caniyev was welcomed in his Azeri hometown by a crowd of 25,000, as his murder may shed light on an intricate modern-day gangster mystery.
Heavily wounded with five bullet fires and later succumbing to his injuries in a hospital in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, Caniyev’s body arrived in Azerbaijani city of Lenkaran with a massive show of tribute from 25,000 locals chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is the Greatest) in a march to his home.
Police took the suspects for interrogation, adding that the probe into the murder was multifaceted and that the number of detentions might increase.
Caniyev was killed after being attacked in his Azerbaijan-plated SUV by two suspects who left the scene after firing 65 bullets. His driver was also heavily wounded in the attack that occurred in front of a hotel in Beşiktaş and is reported to be in a critical condition.
Caniyev’s death has caused a stir in both Azerbaijan and Russia, as he is known to be the main suspect responsible for the 2013 assassination of Kurdish-origin Russian kingpin Aslan Usoyan, also known as “Ded Hasan.” Usoyan was shot dead in the head by a sniper in January 2013 while leaving a Moscow restaurant, after which his gang formed a special team to track down Caniyev, who fled to Istanbul and had a $5 million reward on his head.
Usoyan was claimed to be one of the major arms suppliers to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
At the scene where Caniyev was shot, police found an Israeli-made Uzi type automatic weapon with a silencer and a pistol. After the attack, businessman Tahir Can, who was also inside the SUV during the attack, was detained for interrogation.
Caniyev’s first known crime dates back to 1996 when he – then aged 17 – killed his father’s murderer in a courthouse. Released after two years in jail, Caniyev’s name was embroiled in a series of gang-related crimes before he was suspected of being killed in February 2013 in Turkey. A Russian security source at the time said “half of the mafia confirms his death and half says that he spread such gossip to stop the headhunt against him.” Since then, Caniyev appeared to be lost without trace until his death on Aug. 18.