ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey is seeking an explanation from Somalia after the son of its president, Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, left the country following a fatal traffic accident involving his use of a diplomatic car, according to a Turkish official.
The son, Mohamed Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, was driving a vehicle belonging to the Somali consulate on Nov. 30, when he hit a motorcycle courier in central Istanbul, seriously injuring him, Turkish media have said.
He was using a car carrying a diplomatic licence plate at the time of the accident, said the Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the investigation is still underway.
“Someone who does not have diplomatic status has no right to use these vehicles,” the official added. “Information was requested about this (from Somalia).”
In the absence of “immunity or diplomatic exceptionality”, it made no difference that the Somali president’s son was driving a vehicle with a diplomatic plate, the official said, adding that Turkey’s justice ministry was handling the process.
Somali officials were not immediately available for comment.
The Somali president’s son left Turkey on Dec. 2, after his release from police interrogation, while the 38-year-old motorcyclist, Yunus Emre Gocer, remained in hospital, an Istanbul prosecutor’s office said on Friday.
But after the latter’s death in hospital on Dec. 6, an international arrest warrant was issued for the Somali president’s son, the prosecutor’s office said.
An investigation has been launched into the police officers who performed an initial assessment of the accident, Turkish Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said on social media platform X on Sunday.
Media reports of the incident have sparked a public outcry in Turkey, which has good ties with Somalia.
“We said we will follow the judicial process, but the suspect walked away,” Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said on Friday in a post on X.
(Reporting by Burcu Karakas and Tuvan Gumrukcu, Writing by Huseyin Hayatsever; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Clarence Fernandez)