Former president Gül ‘ready to testify’ in old corruption case
Turkey’s 11th President Gül visited the grave of Refah Party founder and former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan on Aug. 29.Turkey’s 11th President Abdullah Gül has told his close circle that he is ready to testify in an old corruption case from the 1990s in the upcoming weeks, Hürriyet columnist Taha Akyol reported on Aug. 30.
Citing a similar case of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Gül reportedly said the issue was “about the rule of law.”
“This is about the rule of law. Nobody has a privilege. Everyone goes and testifies. It’s in the judiciary’s power to decide whether there is a crime or not."
The Treasury’s official aid provided to the Refah Party, a forerunner of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was put in the spotlight in the late 1990s. After the Refah Party was shut down in 1998, it was alleged that aid worth one trillion Turkish Liras was not returned to the Treasury because scores of party officials had siphoned it off.
Some 70 party officials, including former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, were handed prison sentences in “the lost trillion case” for using using fake documents to show that Treasury aid to the party had been properly spent. Party leader Erbakan’s 12.1-million-Turkish Lira fine was later reduced to 1 million liras in 2011, and his prison sentence was also pardoned by Gül due to his advanced age.
Prosecutors had issued a verdict of non-prosecution for Gül, but Sincan Heavy Penal Court Judge Osman Kaçmaz later labeled him a “suspect” in the ruling.
Gül announced in 2009 that he was ready to testify, but prosecutors, as well as legal experts in Turkey’s presidency, objected for possible protocol problems.
Just a day after his departure from the presidency, Gül reportedly told visitors that he should now testify. “My tenure is over. I will send my lawyers to the prosecutors soon and want them to set a date for me to testify,” he has been quoted as saying.