Somali Defence Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur visited Öznur Göçer, the widow of motor courier Yunus Emre Göçer, on Monday to offer his condolences on behalf of the Somali state. Göçer tragically lost his life in a car accident involving the son of Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
On November 30, Yunus Emre Göçer was fatally injured in a traffic accident. The driver, later identified as Mohamud, the son of the Somali President, was briefly detained but subsequently released, leading to international scrutiny. Despite initial police reports attributing fault to Göçer, further investigation revised this assessment, implicating Mohamud as the primary negligent party.
The accident’s aftermath was marked by a series of legal, diplomatic and political maneuvering. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) pledged to pursue the matter to its legal conclusion. This commitment led to the release of accident footage and a belated imposition of a travel ban on Mohamud. However, it was later revealed that Mohamud had left Turkey before the ban could take effect.
During the meeting, Somali President Mohamud phoned to express his deep sorrow to Mrs. Göçer and affirmed his respect for the Turkish judicial system. However, the president’s empathetic approach stopped short of promising his son’s return to Turkey to face charges.
“I offer my condolences. We have full confidence in Turkish justice. Our respect is endless. Everything will continue as it should, including all processes and procedures. I just wanted to express my feelings and condolences to you as a father. Also, my wife asked me to convey her wishes to you with the same feelings and wishes. That’s the reason I’m calling. May God have mercy on him, and we are praying for him,” he added.
Turkish officials, including Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç, have been actively discussing with Somali counterparts the possibility of Mohamud’s return for trial.
“We’ve had talks with Somali judicial authorities,” Tunç told reporters last Thursday. “It will be possible for the defendant to come to Turkey to stand trial in the coming days.”
“I have talked to the Somali justice minister, and they [are well-intentioned],” Tunç said, adding that he hoped the trial would start soon. The President’s adult son is reportedly in Dubai, UAE.
Somali President Mohamud, addressing the accident for the first time last week, told The Associated Press that his son did not flee Turkey post-accident. “It was an accident. He did not run away, and he hired a lawyer for this purpose,” President Mohamud stated. “And there was no arrest warrant. … So, he has a business and he came out of the country.”
The Göçer family’s lawyer, İyaz Çimen, criticized the delay in legal action and voiced hope for diplomatic cooperation from the Somali government. The family seeks justice on charges of “negligent homicide,” a crime punishable by Turkish law, and aims for both material and moral compensation.
In a disturbing twist, Öznur Göçer reported that officers initially informed her husband’s friends that the incident was a suicide. This claim, made before the release of the collision footage, fueled speculation of a cover-up by Turkish authorities, possibly influenced by the government’s close ties with the Somali president. This aspect adds a layer of controversy and public mistrust towards the investigation.
Turkey’s Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) reported that Mohamud was at fault because he did not brake when necessary or maintain a safe distance when changing lanes, which resulted in a collision with Göçer’s motorcycle. Göçer was found to be secondarily at fault because he did not check his mirrors to see if he had enough room for a lane change or whether the car behind him was also attempting to change lanes.
This incident has brought into sharp focus the escalating issue of motorcycle courier fatalities in Turkey. At least 64 motorcycle couriers lost their lives in traffic accidents in Turkey in 2023. With a marked increase in deaths over the past few years, the plight of these workers has gained attention, highlighting the need for better safety measures and recognition of their rights.
Furthermore, the incident underscores the intricate relationship between Turkey and Somalia. The two nations have fostered a close partnership over the past decade, with Turkey playing a significant role in Somalia’s development sectors. This relationship was epitomized in a 2022 tweet by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, referring to President Mohamud as “my dear brother.”