CHP leader aspires for a Turkey as brave as Iran in fight against corruption
Bülent Sarıoğlu - AMASYA
CİHAN photoTurkey needs to be as courageous as neighboring Iran concerning corruption allegations involving governmental officials, the country’s main opposition leader said, recalling how Iran has charged Babak Zanjani, an Iranian businessman currently imprisoned in Iran on corruption charges who was connected to Turkey’s massive 2013 graft case.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu vowed to follow up now-dropped bribery and corruption cases that engulfed former government officials during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s tenure as prime minister, before he was elected as president in August 2014.
“The Dec.17 and the Dec. 25 cases will definitely be followed [after the Nov. 1 snap elections],” Kılıçdaroğlu told a group of journalists late on Oct. 5 after holding an election rally in Amasya.
“The truth will definitely be revealed. If the Turkish politics do not fulfill its part on this issue, a perception of politics, which gives consent to impunity, will be cemented in society’s memory. In order to get elections that give confidence to the people, shedding light on this incident is a must,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, noting that addressing corruption claims is a demand voiced by the entire society, not only the opposition parties.
“As a matter of fact, those whose names have been involved in the Dec.17-25 case should be the ones who should speak out. They should be more willing than us for clarification of the case if they don’t want to leave a bad heritage to their own children” he argued, referring to the now-dropped Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 corruption cases, which centered on four former ministers and their relatives.
On Sept. 1, 2014, the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office controversially ruled that there were no legal grounds for the prosecution of the 96 suspects, including Bilal Erdoğan, the president’s son, who were accused by prosecutors of bribery and corruption in the Dec. 25, 2013 probe.
The earlier and larger of the two corruption dossiers, meanwhile, was dropped by a newly assigned prosecutor in October 2014. Some 53 graft suspects, including former ministers’ sons, the former manager of Halkbank and a controversial Iranian-Azeri businessman, Reza Zarrab, were implicated in the Dec. 17 investigation.
“We have to be more courageous to display more courageous politics than Iran in regards to fighting corruption,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. Zanjani, who was arrested in December 2013 during a crackdown on alleged corruption during the rule of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, could face the death penalty.
Last weekend, the trial in Iran into Zancani, a well-known tycoon charged with corruption, fraud and money laundering and part of Turkey’s massive graft cases, began. He has already confessed to having 15 billion euros worth of assets abroad.
The deputy prosecutor of the case has asked for the seizure of all of Zanjani’s wealth, claiming that he committed swindling and money laundering crimes in Turkey, Malaysia, Tajikistan and the UAE.
“If these steps are not taken, then we will have institutionalized corruption. The society will have a confirmed perception that those who are guilty are getting away with it,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Zanjani’s name appeared during Turkey’s graft probe in connection with Zarrab, who was charged with forming a ring that bribed officials to help disguise illegal gold sales to Iran via Halkbank before ultimately being released.