‘Illicit proof’ frees judge in bribe case
Fifteen, including former top judge Erdoğan (L) and Istanbul Chamber of Commerce Executive Board Member Yalçıntaş, are freed in a bribe case.A retired Court of Appeals judge accused of taking bribes while on active duty was acquitted along with 15 other suspects, including a prominent businessman accused of giving bribes, by the Supreme Council on Dec. 19, with the top court citing unlawfully obtained evidences as their reason for acquittal.
In a rare case of a senior judge answering charges at Turkey’s Supreme Court, Hasan Erdoğan, the former head of the Supreme Court of Appeals’ Sixth Chamber were accused of accepting $300,000 in bribes in 2008 from the Istanbul-based World Trade Center (WTC) to ensure that they won an eviction case against the CNR Expo company, which was rented by WTC from the CNR expo company. Chairman of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce Murat Yalçıntaş and 15 other suspects were also tried at the Supreme Court along with Erdoğan for giving bribes.
The Supreme Council is the name the Constitutional Court takes when it tries ministers and senior members of the judiciary.
At the final hearing yesterday, Constitutional Court head Haşim Kılıç announced the final verdict after receiving the final defense.
Announcing the final verdict, Kılıç said all suspects were acquitted by a majority vote of the Supreme Court judges. Four of the 17 judges of the Supreme Court, including Kılıç, objected to Erdoğan’s acquittal. However, all suspects were acquitted on the grounds that some evidences were not collected through lawful means and available evidences were not sufficient for their conviction.
The detailed reasoning and basis of the ruling have yet to be announced but are expected to be made public at a later date.
In his defense, Erdoğan said he did not commit the crime he was accused of and reiterated his previous defense while demanding his acquittal. Erdoğan previously argued that evidence in the probe against him, including wiretaps, had been collected through unlawful means and that the case was based on the findings of a Justice Ministry inspector who dealt with the issue without proper authorization.
Ramazan Arıtürk, defendant Yalçıntaş’s lawyer, welcomed the ruling, while recalling that they constantly underlined the illegality of the evidences along the trial process.
“The ruling is an indicator of how clear are the defendants. But more importantly, for us, it deserves appreciation that the court came out with a view which shows that Turkey is a state of rule of law and that an understanding respectful for human rights should be sovereign,” Arıtürk said.
The court ruling also noted that defendants can open compensation cases based on the time they served under custody and arrest. Yet, Arıtürk said Yalçıntaş, who remained arrested in jail for 36 days, was not planning to open such case.
Yalçıntaş, for his part, spoke briefly and said the ruling highlighted that Turkey is governed by the rule of law.