LALE – Justice system, can you hear me?

Justice system, can you hear me? The Turkish government is well aware that it is in a serious trouble over a high-profile corruption and bribery scandal that was disclosed in December of last year The graft accusations will haunt it until justice is done. It is not just four of his cabinet ministers, but presidential candidate Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan, himself, as well as some of his family members, who have been implicated in this serious graft scandal.

Since the scandal became public, however, the government has been taking every measure possible to punish those who exposed the government’s alleged corrupt practices, and in particular, the police and members of the judiciary. The government has still not allowed any investigation of those accused of corruption and bribery to be conducted at all.

It is not a secret anymore that the government is determined to close the corruption files forever at the expense of further polarizing society.In the early days of the corruption scandal, the government purged the police department of over 20,000 officers, as well as over 200 judges, reassigning them to less influential positions.

The latest pre-dawn operation on July 23, carried out on government orders, targeted police officers who participated in the graft probe, as well as the cases regarding the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) and Ergenekon plots and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an urban grouping of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).It is important to underline that the KCK operation initiated by the police was problematic from the very beginning, as it left the impression that it was intended to undermine the Turkish-Kurdish peace process to end the terrorism problem through non-violent means.

It is estimated that around 115 police officers, including senior ones, were detained by their colleagues early this week in the massive operation that has turned into a witch hunt.The detainees are accused of making fraudulent official documents, abuse of authority, illegal wiretapping, and illegally obtaining documents related to state security and violation of privacy of communication.

The officers have denied the charges and said that they are innocent.However, it will be hard to know whether all these accusations are based on fabricated documents or real evidence, since the government-assigned judges and police officers are not expected to unearth the truth.

In addition, how one can expect the principle of a fair trial to be applied when these police officers were detained before an investigation has even been conducted of the corruption allegations in a transparent, impartial and efficient manner? The 29-year-old Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who was detained in the corruption scandal and then released when he threatened to share everything he knows with the public (terminology used by suspects indicating their willingness to give evidence about their accomplices unless they receive protection from the state), for instance, is having a holiday in the Aegean coastal town of Bodrum, Turkey. Meanwhile, the police officers who conducted the graft investigation that implicated Zarrab and others were taken into police custody in handcuffs in pre-dawn raids.

Even Zarrab was not handcuffed when he was detained. This alone demonstrates that the government is protecting Zarrab and intentionally humiliating the police officers who exposed the graft scandal.

It is hard to know the extent to which the operations against the police, initiated on orders from ErdoIan himself, will continue. ErdoIan declared on July 22, the second day that police officers were rounded up, that the operation would widen to other sectors that he did not identify.

According to opinion polls, ErdoIan will be the winner in the August presidential elections. If he becomes president, the pace of the witch hunt may slow down or come to an end.

The new government, though highly expected to be set up by ErdoIan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) again, may not fully abide by orders from their former leader ErdoIan sitting in the presidential palace that are in violation of the relevant law.Yet further damage to the Turkish stability has already been done.

Thousands of government officials have been purged without cause and a wide segment of Turkish society has faced a smear campaign and retaliation for its fierce opposition to ErdoIan’s draconian measures.I now wonder whether the justice system, having been shaken up, will have the courage to hear the grievances of hundreds of people, if not more, facing charges based on what may be fabricated evidence.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman