Turkish Man in Knife Fight Has Criminal History

One of two Turkish men arrested over a knife fight in Sihanoukville on Monday has a criminal history in the seaside city, according to military police. However, the Turk claimed on Wednesday that he had been wrongly identified, and that police and reporters were colluding with a rival Turkish faction to sully his name.

A military police official on Wednesday confirmed that Mehmet Tekoglu, 40, was the man involved in a machete-and-cleaver fight with Serhat Yalcin, 34, which occurred after Mr. Tekoglu fired Mr. Yalcin from his job at the Eos Oceanfront Hotel. In a video of the incident posted online, Mr. Yalcin appears to be the main aggressor in the confrontation.

Police had previously identified the two Turks only by their given names.

“He has a bad history,” Has Samoeun, chief of the provincial military police’s information and security bureau, said on Wednesday after positively identifying Mr. Tekoglu.

“He has been involved in a shooting case and other violence, and he is the one who tried to escape from the court with handcuffs on,” he said.

In March, amid a spate of violent crimes in Sihanoukville involving foreign factions that police characterized as “mafia,” Mr. Tekoglu was charged with intentional violence for stabbing an Israeli man. Police said the stabbing was an act of retaliation by Mr. Tekoglu, who had been targeted in a failed drive-by that saw a Cambodian bystander shot in the leg.

After he was charged at the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court, according to police, Mr. Tekoglu escaped from the courthouse when given permission to go to the bathroom, scaling a fence surrounding the building while in handcuffs and fleeing into a nearby wooded area.

Police said they recaptured him about 300 meters away and sent him to prison. He was later convicted and served several months behind bars, according to Mr. Samoeun.

Shortly after his release late last year, Mr. Tekoglu, who runs SeaCambodia, a luxury tour boat company in Sihanoukville, visited the Cambodia Daily office in Phnom Penh and said that he wanted the newspaper to publish the “real story”—that he had been falsely inculpated in the stabbing and targeted in the drive-by as a result of an ongoing dispute with rival Turkish businessmen Bora Ozturk and Sakip Capal, who run the Koh Rong Dive Center and its ferry service.

He said Mr. Ozturk and Mr. Capal carried out the drive-by themselves and bribed police to frame him for the attack on the Israeli in a bid to muscle him out of the local tourism market.

In a series of profane Facebook messages on Wednesday, Mr. Tekoglu said he had not been involved in Monday’s knife fight, then accused a reporter of conspiring with his rivals and police to link him to the incident.

“Police work together [with] you. How much sakip or bora give you,” he wrote, threatening to take legal action if his name appeared in print in connection with the fight.

Mr. Capal said the suggestion that he and Mr. Ozturk—who previously worked building bungalows on an island owned by jailed Russian developer Sergei Polonsky—had carried out the shooting was absurd.

“Yeah, it was me. It was me also who killed Kennedy. And I shot down the Russian airliner,” he said.

“This guy is mental, sick, you do know that?” he said of Mr. Tekoglu.

“I am busy and I don’t want to get involved with this. He will find his end himself.”

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