A dispute over control of a luxury hotel in Girne, in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), broke into open hostilities with police forced to intervene after reports of armed men ‘storming the hotel’.
The incident took place on Thursday, 10 December, with shareholder Kemal Bozoğlu allegedly arriving at Cratos Premium Hotel with 70 armed personal bodyguards to forcibly wrest control of the hotel from his brother Murat Bozoğlu.
The high-end 410-room hotel first opened its doors in 2010 following a $220 million investment by the Boz Group, a firm from Turkey headed by Utku Bozoğlu and his two sons Murat Bozoğlu and Kemal Bozoğlu.
Set on 105,000 metres squared of land, the huge complex includes a casino, indoor and outdoor clubs, spa, sports facilities, and a port, and employs over 1,000 people. With a touch of Las Vegas about it, the hotel has been popular with locals and international visitors alike.
According to local media reports, the father transferred his share of the business to his two sons, giving overall control to Murat Bozoğlu, who now owns 60% of Cratos Premium Hotel. Kemal Bozoğlu owns 30% of the hotel, and the remaining 10% is owned by tourism entrepreneur İsmail Abidin.
At noon on Thursday, Kemal Bozoğlu is said to have led a raid on Cratos supported by dozens of armed men. His brother Murat was away in Turkey at the time and it is alleged Kemal Bozoğlu sought out Mr Abidin to force a change in ownership.
Press reports state father Utku Bozoğlu, and his wife Ayla were imprisoned in a room in the hotel and were not allowed to leave their room during the raid.
Police arrived soon after and were still present at the hotel 24 hours later.
Following the incident, Mr Abidin issued a statement to the press about how he feared for his life:
“I barely saved my life, if they found me at the hotel they would have killed me. I had to run away from the hotel”, adding that, “I have a child, a family, what kind of country has this become. As a tourism professional it is a huge scandal to experience this situation.”
There are no reports of shots being fired or any injuries to anyone at the hotel. However, numerous people appeared in Girne Court on Friday in relation to the incident.
Main image, top, of Cratos Premium Hotel. Photo © Cratospremium.com