Mustafa Kaplan is one of the well-known criminal defense lawyers in Germany. He represents the murderer of the CDU politician Walter Lübcke. Turkish President Erdogan was once a chaplain client. Now Kaplan tells how it came about.
The lawyer Mustafa Kaplan has already taken on various sensational mandates. He is currently fighting for the Lübcke assassin Stephan Ernst before the BGH. A few years ago he represented Turkish President Erdogan. In his new book “Anwalt der Bösen”, he describes how he got this spectacular mandate. Here is an excerpt from the book. (to be published on July 28th, 2022 by Piper-Verlag)
Do you know the feeling of being caught between all fronts? Me, yes. Especially when it comes to delicate mandates. In 2017, the office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan contacted me. The caller informed me that I was one of three candidates to represent Mr. Erdoğan in the Böhmermann case in the second instance before the press senate of the Hamburg Higher Regional Court. The TV presenter had insulted the head of state in Ankara in the worst sexist way in a so-called abusive poem on his show Neo Magazin Royale.
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I deliberately refrain from reproducing Böhmermann’s work here, even in part. As a convinced Green, I am certainly not one of the Erdoğan or AKP supporters. In the meantime, the entire political structure in Ankara has become extremely alien to me. At the moment, I’m not attracted to any of the other parties in Turkey either. For me, values such as the rule of law, separation of powers, freedom of opinion and freedom of the press, along with safeguarding the rights of minorities, are not up for discussion in a democratic country.
advocate of the wicked
There is no doubt that in my first home country, a lot of things are in trouble in the political sphere. But that doesn’t mean that you can bring racist dirt to the station in this country just to satisfy your ego. These dull fecal rhymes of Böhmermann, disguised as satire, lacked any esprit, let alone political depth. Rather, someone in front of the camera told a dirty, anti-Turkish thigh-slapping joke in order to pose as a supposedly upright fighter against all autocrats in the world. Disgusting and hypocritical!
A few heretical questions from me: Would Böhmermann actually have dared to recite such inhuman, racist and sexist “poems” about Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu or Pope Francis, for example, in front of an audience of millions? Would he have received the support of large parts of politics and the public? I could easily answer the questions for you, but I prefer to keep the answers to myself.
That was certainly not the finesse of a Kurt Tucholsky, who had never splurged on his socio-political tirades like the slapstick comedian Böhmermann. Riot also makes famous, no matter how trivial it may seem. That was not a fine cabaret blade à la Dieter Hildebrandt or Dieter Nuhr. Boom, boom, always hard druff. The Böhmermann way bothered me when I had no idea about the job offer from Ankara. The Böhmermann act was too easy, too simple, too bad. And yet the TV presenter was celebrated in the feuilleton columns as a brave hero who didn’t mince his words. That went against the grain for me.
If Böhmermann had actually pursued artistic freedom or a political message, then he could certainly have published a poem that wittily denounced the corresponding abuses in Turkey. From my point of view, Böhmermann was only concerned with creating a scandal with flat jokes, no matter how. The TV comedian wanted the biggest bang possible. Böhmermann had downright provoked the reaction from Ankara in order to upgrade himself. But when the first threats from Erdoğan supporters became public, the ZDF “poet” hid in his house in Cologne and had himself guarded around the clock by police officers – the very same law enforcement officials whom he had previously also ridiculed. But I only found out about that later.
In addition, during the 2006 World Cup summer fairy tale in Germany, Böhmermann defamed Cologne football icon Lukas Podolski in a highly derogatory manner. I never forgave Böhmermann for dealing with Podolski. Hardly anyone stands for the “Kölsche Jeföhl” like Poldi. Even if he’s not the type to do highly political analyses, he always comes across as honest and likeable. And his left foot is just legendary. I didn’t see such qualities in Böhmermann.
Now I had the welcome opportunity for a tit-for-tat deal against this mediocre TV joker. A few days after the first call from the presidential palace, the second message followed with a request to take over the mandate for Erdoğan. My predecessor Michael-Hubertus von Sprenger withdrew when the Turkish President accused the German authorities of “Nazi methods”. That was of course a completely nonsensical accusation and unfortunately typical of Turkish politicians who don’t know what to do with the German legal system. Still, the case appealed to me. There was something about that: the Cologne chaplain represents one of the best-known, but also one of the most controversial politicians in the world.
And, of course, the fact that I would be acting as a president-elect’s attorney was a little flattering to my ego. Not that I was megalomaniac, but somehow I was reluctant to allow overt defamation. In my case, it is the norm that my client and I do not agree politically. From my point of view, it was a question of right or wrong. It was as simple as that. If someone is allowed to call someone else a goat fucker on TV, that’s definitely going too far for me. Even though I was breaking new ground in civil law as a criminal defense lawyer, I wanted to take the risk.
I had hardly been mandated when the press spokesman for the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in Hamburg contacted me. The reporters finally wanted to know who Erdoğan’s new legal representative was. “We have to get out with the information at some point,” warned the spokesman for the authorities. Until then, I had deliberately held back on the matter. There shouldn’t be much media fanfare. Perhaps my concern about how my family would react played a part.
Even then my marriage was not at its best. And I knew that my wife would blame me, maybe my children too. Taking on the mandate created another area of conflict that I really didn’t need. “My family doesn’t know anything about it yet,” I replied to the OLG spokesman. “Please give me time over the weekend to catch up.” No sooner said than done.
As expected, the revelation caused a lot of drama at home. “Why are you representing him? Are you crazy? You are and will remain a self-promoter,” my wife criticized me. The arguments dragged on and ended up getting nowhere. Taking over the Erdoğan mandate deepened our marital crisis considerably, especially since my wife was also trying to turn the children against me. Point.
For a long time I wrestled with myself whether and how much I might want to write in my book about the end of my marriage. Undoubtedly one could take the position that this subject should also have its place in an autobiography. On the other hand, the accusation could then possibly be raised that I used the book to wash the “ dirty linen ” of a marriage that failed miserably. After much deliberation, I finally decided to leave this topic out of my mind – solely out of love and respect for my children.
But I would like to get rid of a few clever sentences from Diego’s mother Gladys: “A relationship is like tango. A creative game between a man and woman who love and respect each other. They are equals and want to get the best out of each other. A creative act. Something new and beautiful only emerges when both are willing to change. But if both are not ready for it, neither tango nor a relationship is possible.” How right she is.
Despite the marital quarrels, I did not allow myself to be dissuaded from my plan. Since I’m a real stubborn. In the end I didn’t care what my wife, my friends, my acquaintances thought about it. I do not make acceptance of a mandate dependent on this. I do my thing, there are no compromises: familiarize myself with the case first, don’t justify it – that’s my motto. Erdoğan was my client. I was very happy to exercise this mandate. It has been one of the most important processes in my career so far. Point.
Some have asked me if I was trying to achieve similar celebrity status as Böhmermann. My answer was: definitely no. If it had been my intention to exploit the mandate in the media, I would have acted differently. Many a lawyer would certainly not have missed a talk show in my place.