Dogan Alagoz CEN

Dogan Alagoz, one of Turkey's most notorious drugs barons, has managed to escape the clutches of the country's prison system - and caused huge embarrassment to its legal system in the process.

Alagoz was released from Silivri prison in Istanbul on 16 January, after an accomplice sent a fake fax bearing the insignia of the Turkish appeal court, ordering the convict's release. The authorities did not realise their mistake until a month later, when a prosecutor noticed the error while checking the release verdicts.

The error, which has only just come to light, might even be slightly amusing - were Alagoz not such a hard and dangerous criminal.

The drug lord, who has served stints in jail totalling more than 20 years in Germany, France, Italy and Turkey, is known by the nicknames 'doctor drugs' and 'the synthetic baron', testament to his prolific production line and network of contacts around Europe.

In 2010 he was caught and arrested after a raid on a synthetic drug manufacturing plant in Istanbul, along with 14 other men. Those detained included Haluk Soylu, brother of Fulya Kantarcioglu, who was a member of the Turkish Constitutional Court at the time. The police found 47,000 ecstasy pills and 100 kilograms of drug-related chemicals, according to Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper.

Alagoz claimed that he had manufactured all of the drugs for Erdem Ersoy, an antique dealer who was also a cousin of Mesut Yilmaz, a former Turkish Prime Minister. Alagoz said that the chemicals required to manufacture the drugs were provided by Ersoy. Alagoz's statements resulted in Ersoy being detained, although he was later released following his testimony.

Alagoz himself was charged with drug trafficking and "establishing an organisation" and the prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of up to 43 years. A heavy penal court in Istanbul sentenced him to 12 years and 6 months in prison on 19 February 2013, a decision which was upheld last year.

Yet the incarceration was to prove relatively short-lived.

While Alagoz was kept in Silivri prison, a fake fax regarding a judicial inquiry into his release was sent to the Istanbul heavy penal court on 16 January 2015. Hurriyet Daily reported that it was "as if it came from the Supreme Court."

The clerk's office at the heavy penal court assumed the fax number belonged to the Supreme Court, and dialled the number. Upon getting the confirmation that the decision of release was valid, the clerk sent the document to the Silivri prison.

Then, the prison authority called the clerk at the heavy penal court and confirmed the release. On the same day, Alagoz was released from prison.

About four weeks after the incident, in mid-February, a prosecutor in charge of prisons in Istanbul noticed that the document concerning the release of the convict was counterfeit and issued a warrant for Alagoz's arrest. An administrative and judicial investigation has also been launched against clerks involved in the incident, according to Hurriyet.

Silvri prison
An external view of Silivri prison Wikipedia

'It wasn't a mistake - people with connections must have organised it'

Yet Guray Dag, a lawyer and executive of the Istanbul Branch of Progressive Lawyers' Association, told IBTimes UK that the release of Dogan Alagoz was neither an act of neglect nor a mistake, insinuating dark dealings and malpractice in the judicial system.

"Even I as a lawyer have the fax and telephone numbers of the Supreme Court. Local courts in Istanbul must have all of its numbers. They must know the fax numbers of all branches of the Supreme Court. And they must have realised at first glance that the number that sent the fax was not of the Supreme Court.

"And we are not talking about an ordinary prisoner here. He is a drug baron, a well-known criminal. So this is an organised, professional act of the persons involved. People that have connections with both the Supreme Court and the heavy penal court must have organized it jointly.

"Most probably, Alagoz has already fled abroad with a fake id."

Given Alagoz's past exploits, Turkey will surely rue his release, and the government must be praying this most dangerous of individuals is swiftly reined in once more.