Graft panel turns to prosecutor to destroy wiretapped phone calls
Bülent Sarıoğlu - ANKARA
Former EU Minister Egemen Bağış (L), former Environment Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar (2L), Former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan (2R) and former Interior Minister Muammer Güler (R) have faced accusations of bribery and influence-peddling.A parliamentary inquiry commission has sent its report to authorities at the eleventh hour in the latest episode of a controversial process regarding four former ministers who were engulfed in the massive corruption and graft operation launched on Dec. 17, 2013.
Hakkı Köylü, the chair of the commission and a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), sent the report to the Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek's office late Jan. 9, minutes before the commission's legal mandate expired.
Separately, he sent the investigation file to Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's office and asked him to destroy the wiretapped phone calls included in the case "in accordance with the commission's decision."
"We sent 14 voice records to the public prosecutor of Istanbul... We did not destroy them as the authority and duty to destroy them is with the prosecutor's office," Köylü said.
The four ministers stepped down last year amid suspicions of bribery and illicit money transfers. Months after the criminal case was dropped by a prosecutor, the parliamentary committee, which was dominated by the AKP, had voted 9-5 on Jan. 5 against referring the ex-ministers to the Supreme Council.
Opposition party members had voted to send the former ministers to the Supreme Council and objected to destroy the evidence, but they were outnumbered in the commission on both counts.
A secret ballot in the Parliament's General Assembly is now expected to be held next week, determining whether the ministers should face any legal proceedings.