TODAY’S – Turkey’s top judicial body suspends graft probe prosecutors

Turkey’s top judicial body suspends graft probe prosecutorsFour prosecutors who initially conducted corruption investigations that went public on Dec. 17 and 25 have been suspended by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) in the final episode of a series of efforts by the government to gloss over the investigations that shook the country.

Celal Kara, Zekeriya z, Muammer AkkaI and Mehmet Yuzgeand#39s files were referred to the second chamber of the top judicial body with a demand for their suspension earlier this month.All four prosecutors are accused of malpractice.

They will remain suspended until the investigation is completed.The HSYK had previously allowed for an investigation into the four prosecutors and had tasked three inspectors with examining the accusations leveled against the prosecutors.

The inspection report claimed that the four prosecutors had andldquodamaged the dignity of their offices through inappropriate acts and behaviorandrdquo The report also demanded the suspension of the prosecutors.After the massive government corruption scandal went public on Dec.

17, the pro-government Sabah, Star and Yeni Iafak dailies kicked off a defamation campaign against the prosecutors, especially z. They claimed he had gone on a vacation to Dubai with his family and that it had been paid for through private company funds.

The government also recently approved a law clearing the disciplinary records of prosecutors and judges for events between September 2005 and September 2013, thus excluding the four prosecutors, as the corruption allegations were revealed on Dec. 17, 2013, and the accusations were leveled against the prosecutors after this date.

The clearing of disciplinary records will not benefit z and the others with regard to these charges, even if they had not been dismissed by the HSYK.The HSYK elected its 10 primary and five alternate members in elections held in October and a platform supported by the government won the election, leading to serious concerns that it might further increase government control over the judiciary.

Fifty-three suspects, including the sons of three ministers, bureaucrats and prominent businessmen, had been detained in the Dec. 17 operation last year This was followed by operation on Dec.

25, when the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutorand#39s Office ordered the detention of 30 suspects, including a number of Justice and Development Party (AK Party)-affiliated figures and businessmen.However, the Istanbul Police Department, which saw an extensive purge of its top officers following the first wave of the graft probe, did not comply with the order Among the main suspects of the Dec.

25 investigation was President Recep Tayyip ErdoIanand#39s son Bilal businessmen Mehmet Cengiz, Mustafa Latif TopbaI and Yasin al-Qadi, a Saudi businessman who is on the US Treasury Departmentand#39s andldquoSpecially Designated Global Terroristandrdquo list.Since the Dec.

17 investigation was made public, President ErdoIan, who was prime minister at the time, has sought to discredit the prosecutors and police officers involved by accusing them of working to oust the AK Party from power Those prosecutors and police officers, along with tens of thousands of others, have been reassigned from their positions.As a result of a series of steps by the government to cover up the investigation, the probe was completely closed on Dec.

16 after the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutorand#39s Office announced that it had rejected appeals filed against an earlier decision to dismiss corruption and bribery charges against the 53 suspects.Prosecutors to appeal verdictAkkaI said, in a statement to the Hurriyet dailyand#39s news portal, that he would appeal the verdict and that it was not unexpected as the judiciary has been largely redesigned by the government following the corruption probes.

Noting that it is unusual for the HSYK to dismiss prosecutors, AkkaI commented on the HSYK decision by saying: andldquoThere is nothing to say. Everything we have lived through in the past year is sad.

We are very tired.andrdquoAccording to the news portal, AkkaI said he had previously submitted a complaint to the HSYK regarding the ongoing investigation about himandldquoI had submitted a petition which said the inspectors in charge of the investigation have lost their impartiality and did not collect the evidence [in the case],andrdquo AkkaI was quoted as saying.

After the graft probe in December of last year, AkkaI, who was removed just as all the other prosecutors who were in charge of the two corruption probes were, was transferred to TekirdaI.Commenting on the HSYK decision on Twitter, z said it was an honor for him to be suspended from his post as a result of his efforts to andldquonot let thieves and corrupt people defraud the nation.

andrdquo He added that the HSYK decision showed that a andquotdependent judiciary that has been subdued by the government has been formed.andrdquoandquotThank God I did not stand by those corrupt people and thieves and I did not yield to lawlessness [because of] fearing damage to myself,andquot he tweeted.

Kara: Decision was politically motivatedKara has criticized the HSYK decision saying, andldquoThat decision, which is politically motivated, has been deliberately taken, [and] has nothing to do with the law.andrdquoMaintaining that he knew from the start that the prosecutors who had launched the graft probes would be suspended, Kara said in a statement to the Taraf daily: andldquoWe will appeal the verdict.

[andhellip] The verdict has been given without our objections being taken into consideration.andrdquoKara, who stressed that there was nothing wrong in the corruption probe he conducted, reportedly said: andldquoDec.

17 is a [corruption] file supported by the strongest evidence in the history of humanity.andrdquoYuzge, the other prosecutor who is the subject of the decision, has avoided commenting, saying, in remarks to a news portal, that he has not yet received the HSYK decision and therefore did not know of what he is being accused.

When asked about the suspension of the prosecutors, AK Party Deputy Chairman BeIir Atalay also said it was something he had expected, but avoided making further comment on the decision.CHPand#39s Kart: ErdoIan behind HSYK verdictAtilla Kart, a deputy from the main opposition Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP), has lashed out at the HSYK decision, saying it was obviously taken under instructions by President ErdoIan.

Maintaining that all the institutions of the Turkish Republic, including the Parliament Speakerand#39s Office, have tried since the onset of the graft probes, under the instruction of ErdoIan, to sweep evidence of corruption under the rug, Kart told Todayand#39s Zaman: andldquoIn Turkey, the constitutional order has been suspended. The political system has been fixed in favor of the personal and political interests of a dictatorandrdquoandquotDictatorandquot is a reference to ErdoIan, who has been much criticized by the opposition for having violated the Constitution even after being elected president in August.

Kart, who recalled that both corruption probes were recently dropped by prosecutors who replaced the ones targeted by the HSYK, demanded to know how the prosecutors could dare take such a step given that Parliament is expected to vote next month on whether to refer the former ministers to the Constitutional Court for trial.andldquoWill the HSYK not launch an investigation about the prosecutors who dropped the [graft] investigations?andrdquo Kart demanded.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman