ZDEMIR – Prosecutor dismisses complaint against controversial villas

Prosecutor dismisses complaint against controversial villasA prosecutor has said there were no grounds for legal action regarding a complaint about two villas illegally built in an environmentally protected zone that are allegedly owned by President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan, maintaining that a court had previously issued a negative verdict dealing with the complaint.The Izmir Bar Association submitted in July a complaint to the Urla Prosecutorand#39s Office about the two illegally built villas on the grounds that they were constructed in violation of the zoning permit for the areaIn a statement sent by the Urla Prosecutorand#39s Office to the Izmir Bar Association on Dec.

17 — the first anniversary of a sweeping graft probe — prosecutor Huseyin Demirci said there was no grounds for legal action as a court had previously heard and issued a verdict on the same issue. andldquoIt is one of the fundamental principles of criminal justice that a [second] trial cannot be made for an act [regarding which a court previously delivered a verdict],andrdquo he stated.

The villas in question are located at HacIlar Bay, in Urlaand#39s Zeytineli village, in Izmir province. They are officially owned by Hamdi BoyacI, a close friend of ErdoIan.

However, Iehrazat Mercan, a member of the Environment and Urban Commission of the Turkish Bar Association (TBB), said the two villas in question are not covered by the court verdict to which the prosecutorand#39s statement refers.Noting that the previous court verdict on the issue was delivered in 2010, and that a fine was issued accordingly by the local administration for the construction in that area at the time, Mercan told Todayand#39s Zaman: andldquoAs can be seen on Google Earth, the two villas in question were constructed after 2012, while it was back in 2010 that the Special Provincial Administration of Izmir ruled for a demolition of the villas [in the area].

andrdquoMercan, who will appeal the prosecutorand#39s verdict of non-suit, added: andldquoIf the prosecutorand#39s office looked at the [area on] Google Earth, it would see that the villas regarding which a compliant was presented were recently built illegally.andrdquoMercan also recalled that there was an ongoing legal case against the lowering of the zoning status of the area, which paved the way for the villas to be built.

The Urla villas came to public attention early this year following the exposure of the Dec. 17 graft probe, in which senior government members were implicated.

According to alleged phone conversations that surfaced in the media in January, a businessman close to ErdoIan, Mustafa Latif TopbaI, decided to build eight luxury villas near the village of Zeytineli, but was denied a building permit as the area was a first-degree environmentally protected zone.The businessman asked then-Prime Minister ErdoIan to change the zone to a third-degree protected zone so that he could get the permits he needed.

ErdoIan was claimed to have helped the businessman and reportedly received two villas from him in return.The Hurriyet daily reported in August that ErdoIan and his family had taken a vacation at the villas in question.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman