France confirms Turkey's Uzan application for political asylum

French officials have confirmed Turkish businessman and politician Cem Uzan's application for "political asylum" in France.

France confirms Turkey's Uzan application for political asylum

French officials have confirmed Turkish businessman and politician Cem Uzan's application for "political asylum" in France, Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said Uzan's application is now being considered by OFPRA, the French office for the protection of refugees and stateless persons.

Valero said Uzan's application is subject to routine procedures just as other applications and added that the application was probably made last month.

However, Valero did not elaborate on Uzan's whereabouts.

Uzan's lawyer said Monday that France had granted his client political asylum.

Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman said, in August an international arbitration court overturned Uzan's objection to a Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) takeover of his two Polish-based companies, Cementownia Nowa Huta and Polska Energetyka Holding. Uzan was sentenced to prison for hiding credit-loading cards for cell phone lines belonging to GSM operator Telsim in an empty pool at his villa. Another lawsuit filed against Turkey by Cyprus-based investment company Libananco -- allegedly a front company for Uzan -- to recoup shares of two companies confiscated by the state from Uzan is still being heard.

In June of 2003, the TMSF took over Imarbank and Adabank, two Uzan banks, accusing the Uzan family of taking part in a scheme to siphon off millions of dollars from the two banks. The TMSF, which compensated the loss of Uzan's clients and account holders, said Uzan's debts regarding the two banks topped 3 billion liras. In order to recoup the compensation money, the TMSF took over 200 companies of the Uzan family group, including Star Media, two cement companies and the Telsim GSM Company.

Uzan was sentenced to three years and six months in jail in a case filed against him by the Kucukcekmece Prosecutor's Office on Jan. 10, 2005, after a four-and-a-half-year trial.

The sentence was appealed, and the case is currently awaiting review by the Supreme Court of Appeals. If the high court approves the sentence, Uzan will go to jail.

However, Uzan has been barred from international travel as he is now a suspect along with 33 others in a case being heard by the Istanbul 8th High Criminal Court, facing charges of "establishing an organization and being a member of it with the intent to commit a crime," "embezzlement," "fraud" and "fraud against the state."

The other suspects include his father, Kemal Uzan, siblings Murat Hakan Uzan and Aysegul Uzan Akay and uncles Yavuz and Bahattin Uzan.

Earlier, Cem Uzan's lawyers petitioned the court to lift the travel ban citing health reasons, but the court rejected the appeal.



Agencies

Last Mod: 13 Ekim 2009, 15:30
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