Ex-economy minister traveled to Mecca with private jet of key suspect in graft probe: Report
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet
Zafer Çağlayan, his wife Songül Çağlayan, his son Ahmet Çağan Çağlayan, his daugter-in-law Kübra Ece traveled to Mecca with a plane owned by Reza Zarrab (on the picture) arrested in the graft probe along with Ahmet Çağan Çağlayan. Cihan photoEx-Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan traveled to Mecca for Umrah with his family on a private jet owned by Iranian-born Azeri businessman Reza Zarrab on March 2013, daily Hürriyet reported Jan. 3.
Zarrab, his celebrity wife Ebru Gündeş, Zafer Çağlayan, his wife Songül Çağlayan, his son Ahmet Çağan Çağlayan, his daugter-in-law Kübra Ece, security guard Emrah Sarıyüce and İbrahim Arslan were on plane owned by Zarrab on the trip to Mecca that took place on March 22, 2013.
Zarrab, who was charged with forming a ring that bribed officials to help disguise illegal gold sales to Iran via Turkey's state-owned Halkbank, is considered as the key suspecy of a graft investigation that has gripped the country since mid-December.
The probe lead to the resignation of the three ministers whose sons were detained, including Çağlayan. Four implicated ministers were replaced in a large Cabinet reshuffle on Dec. 25.
The report came on the same day as an Istanbul court has rejected a demand for Zarrab's release.
Zarrab’s lawyer Şeyda Yıldırım objected to the Dec. 21 decision of arrest. The Istanbul 8th criminal court of first instance refuted the demand for Zarrab’s release. The businessman had previously said he needed surgery for recently being diagnosed with a tumor. Demand for the release of Çağlayan's son was also rejected.
On Jan. 2, the court refuted the demands of the release of 10 other graft probe suspects including Barış Güler, the son of ex-Interior Minister Muammer Güler and Halkbank's chief executive Süleyman Aslan.
The court said in its ruling that the detention orders “were appropriate” after the review of the release demands. The lawyers of the suspects, who are under custody since the launch of a police operation on Dec. 17, said they would apply to a higher court to re-examine the requests.
Both Barış Güler and Kaan Çağlayan are among the 24 people who have been charged so far in connection with the high-profile investigation.
The probe also highlighted the deepening conflict between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the movement of Islamic scholar Fethullah Glen, whose followers are said to hold key positions inside the secret service, police and judiciary and are believed to be behind the investigation.