Turkish Parliamentary Speaker launches probe against ombudsman over secret meeting with prosecutor
An investigation has been launched against Turkey’s first ombudsman over the reports, Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Cicek said. AFP PhotoParliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek has said he has launched a probe into Turkey’s first ombudsman, Nihat Ömeroğlu, over reports that he threatened former Istanbul Chief Prosecutor Zekeriya Öz on behalf of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the graft probe.
“After reading such reports, I’ve started an investigation as the ombudsman is working subordinate to Parliament. The ombudsman demanded to be investigated as well. We are now looking at who [will carry this investigation out] and how it will be conducted, as this is a very new case for us,” Çiçek told reporters Jan. 10.
One of Turkey’s most controversial prosecutors, Öz was recently reassigned to a passive position after he coordinated a massive corruption and graft probe that has engulfed Erdoğan and members of his government. Earlier this week, he said Erdoğan assigned Ömeroğlu and İsmail Rüştü Cirit, a member of the Supreme Court of Appeals, to meet him and threaten him to stop the operation. Ömeroğlu and Cirit confirmed they met Öz in Bursa on the eve of the new year but that they were not assigned by anybody and did not convey such messages to the prosecutor. The Prime Minister’s Office also denied Öz’s claims.
“I know Zekeriya Öz from his internship days at Bursa Courthouse. We have been together many times in Istanbul and in Bursa. I repeat: Claims that I was assigned by the prime minister, that I have threatened him and that I asked him to stop the operations are out of the question,” Ömeroğlu said in a written statement late Jan. 9.
Ömeroğlu was elected by Parliament as the country’s first ombudsman upon the government’s nomination. His closeness with the prime minister is well-known.
Cirit, on the other hand, said he knew Öz and his family and met with them in Bursa for a dinner, but added that he never urged him to suspend the operation. A member of the supreme judiciary, Cirit is known to have acquitted Erdoğan in one of his earlier cases.
It remains unclear how Çiçek’s investigation will proceed, as the regulations do not spell out how such a probe should be conducted.
“We ignored, we forgot or we never thought the ombudsman could also commit a crime. But now there is such a situation,” Çiçek said