LESS than five years ago he was a clotheshorse for Australia’s elite Chadwick Model Agency, his chiselled features reminiscent of a Bond actor.
Today, 28-year-old Hasan Topal is at the centre of a violent power struggle within one of the country’s most feared bikie gangs, the Comanchero.
Victoria police have confirmed that Topal was installed as commander of the gang’s southern chapter following the imprisonment Comanchero national president Mick Murray last week.
Murray is serving an eight-month sentence for contempt after refusing to co-operate with authorities investigating a series of bikie related incidents, including several shootings.
Murray is the owner of Melbourne’s notorious Nitro Ink tattoo parlour, the scene of a brazen assassination attempt on senior Comanchero Robert Ale, 36.
Ale, who is nicknamed the “Crybaby Comanchero”, was shot nine times after three hoodie-wearing gunmen burst into the Hampton Park studio and opened fire at just after 1pm on February 22.
Police have yet to arrest anyone over the dramatic hit, which saw innocent bystanders running for their lives as bullets flew.
Several shots penetrated the walls, entering businesses at the rear of the parlour, with one bullet narrowly missing at least one office worker, according to Victoria Police spokeswoman Natalie Webster.
Police believe the internal feud stems from bad blood between Murray and the gang’s former president, Amad “Jay” Malkoun.
Malkoun is currently in exile in Russia, where is believed to established a successful crime syndicate made up of heavily armed mercenaries.
The Maserati driving, convicted heroin trafficker handed the reigns to Murray in 2013 before leaving Melbourne to start a new life in Dubai.
He was subsequently photographed with senior gang members at an international Comanchero convention in Chechnya.
Police believe Malkoun’s Russian network is linked to a multimillion-dollar property racket involving real estate in Melbourne.
Murray, who also owns Nitro gym, where celebrities including Hollywood strongman turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger have been photographed, is believed to owe in excess of $12 million in taxes.
Police say bad blood between Murray and Malkoun has contributed to the instability within the Comanchero, which has an estimated 50 members in Victoria — 25 of whom are currently behind bars.
On Monday, police released CCTV footage of the Nitro Ink shooting and revealed investigators had connected the incident to a hit on another Comanchero in the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir last August.
In that case, the victim was shot six times but, Robert Ale, somehow survived.
Acting Senior Sergeant Paul Topham said both men were aligned to Malkoun, who continues to pull strings from overseas.
“It is believed that he is a very influential figure in the club and there appears to be animosity between (current president) Mick Murray and Jay Malkoun,” Sergeant Topham said.
“The animosity between these two members has then filtered down between members of the club who are aligned to both, which is causing factions to form at a local level.”
He said police believed the victims were targeted after a “falling out” with Murray.
“At this stage we have been unable to identify the nature of that dispute,” he said. “One of the avenues we’re investigating is whether Jay Malkoun still has interest in the leadership of the club.”
If he does, it’s likely that Hasan Topal could find himself with a bounty on his head.
The former model is a trusted confidante of Murray, who is understood to have been one of the guests of honour at Topal’s lavish 2016 wedding to radiation therapist Samantha Rabah. There is no suggestions Ms Rabah has any gang involvement.
Topal proved his enviable looks came second to his loyalties to Murray and the club during a violent brawl at a Canberra strip club last year in which he was captured on CCTV smashing a glass into his own forehead before re-entering the fray.
Details of the incident were revealed in September last year when Topal fronted
Melbourne Magistrates Court on charges of breaching his bail conditions and refusing police access to seven mobile phones police seized during his arrest.
— C.T. Fletcher (@CTFletcherISYMF) April 3, 2016
Police allege Topal was involved in a wild punch up between fellow Comanchero members at the Capital Men’s Club in August last year.
The court heard that security cameras captured Topal smashing a glass into his own forehead and ripping his T-shirt off before rejoining the fight, kicking and punching a fellow Comanchero as he lay semiconscious.
Detective Senior Constable Courtney Hughes testified that Mick Murray can be seen in the footage standing in the background watching the affray and making no attempt to intervene.
“The fight continues in the background until a female can be heard repeatedly screaming loudly over the fighting males ‘F—ing stop!’,” Detective Hughes said told the court, according to Fairfax.
At the time of his arrest over the brawl, Topal was on bail for extortion and assault charges over an incident at a hire car company in Richmond in may last year.
Police say he went to Dream Drives to recover $20,000 relating to a business contract dispute and allegedly demanded money from staff, saying: “I’m going to start beating you guys up one by one, and then destroy your cars one by one.”