Skip to main content

Interpol red notice for mother, son who fled Turkey to US after hit-and-run

A lawyer of the family of the man who died in the fatal car crash says the move raised their hopes for justice.
This photograph taken in Lyon, eastern France, on Sept. 5, 2023, shows the entrance of the International Criminal Police Organization headquarters, known as Interpol.

ANKARA — The Interpol has issued a red notice for a Turkish mother and son who fled to the United States after a fatal hit-and-run in Istanbul in March, leading to outrage in Turkey.

The 16-year-old, whose name cannot be disclosed because he is a minor, drove his car into five people, killing one and injuring four others in Istanbul’s affluent neighborhood of Gokturk on March 1. He was whisked away by his mother, Eylem Tok, first from the crash scene — allegedly without calling emergency services — and then from the country that same day. Later that month, Turkish authorities requested that the United States extradite the mother and son, and applied to Interpol for the issuance of a “red notice."

The Interpol, an intergovernmental organization of 196 member countries, including the United States, approved the Turkish request for the notice, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported Thursday. Interpol red notices require national law enforcement of any member country to take legal action against wanted individuals, including provisionally arresting them.

Haci Orhan, a lawyer for the family of 29-year-old Murat Aci, who was killed in the accident, confirmed the issuance of the notice to Al-Monitor. Orhan believes the pair are still in the United States, where they traveled via Egypt after leaving the country from an Istanbul airport merely a couple of hours after the accident.

Tok, a novelist, and her son were spotted strolling in Manhattan in late March.

“We are more hopeful now that the justice will prevail,” Orhan said. “I believe that this will speed up the process.”

“After the red notice, US authorities have to either extradite them or try them there,” he added.

In her initial statements to the local Turkish press a week after their escape, Tok admitted that her underage and unlicensed son was driving the car during the crash. She apologized and indicated that they would return to Turkey, but they never did. 

In addition to the minor, who holds dual American-Turkish citizenship, Tok is accused of several charges related to the accident, including aiding and abetting a fugitive. However, Turkish law grants immunity for such charges to first-degree family members of a suspect.

Orhan said that Tok also failed to call emergency services before leaving the crash site, a claim that could result in negligence charges in the death of Aci, an auto mechanic and father of a 1-year-old.

The accident sparked outrage in the country after grisly details, including the seizure of the victims’ phones from the crash site — allegedly to prevent them from calling emergency services — emerged. One of the missing phones was later handed over to Istanbul police by an aide to the 16-year-old's father.