Istanbul court arrests Iranian drug lord and four associates

Istanbul court arrests Iranian drug lord and four associates

Istanbul court arrests Iranian drug lord and four associates

In a decision by an Istanbul court, a suspected Iranian drug lord and four of his associates, including two police officers, have been arrested, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on April 20.

The Istanbul Criminal Court of Peace on duty ruled for the arrests of Naji Sharifi Zindashti and his nephew Ekrem Öztunç on charges of “voluntary killing by planning,” Seyyid Nurullah Rezai on charges of being “a member of the criminal organization,” Ali Savaşır on charges of “helping the criminal organization,” and a chief superintendent of police Fatih Yılmaz and retired police officer Ergül Kapukaya on charges of “committing a crime on behalf of a criminal organization despite not being a member.”

Istanbul narcotics police had detained Zindashtia and nine of his associates, including four constables (two retired), in a raid carried out in the early morning hours of April 6.

On April 19, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office referred seven suspects to the Istanbul Criminal Court of Peace demanding their arrest, while asking for the release of three other suspects, including Zindashti’s wife, under a judicial control decision.

The court released retired police officer Gönen Karakaya under a judicial control decision, as well as three others the prosecutor’s office had also requested for release.

Zindashti was reportedly a secret witness in the controversial Ergenekon trial that saw hundreds of people detained on charges of attempting to overthrow the government. According to newly surfaced information, he met 30 times between 2007 and 2013 with Metin Topuz, an employee at the United States Consulate in Istanbul, who is currently under custody over his alleged links to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), daily Hürriyet journalist Toygun Atilla has reported.

Furthermore, Turkish officials have determined Zindashti met with FETÖ-linked prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, who was in charge of conducting the Ergenekon investigation, a total of 44 times between 2010 and 2012, Atilla has reported.