Former President Gül testifies in ‘lost trillion case’
ANKARATurkey’s 11th president, Abdullah Gül, has testified in a corruption case from the 1990s, known as the “lost trillion case,” with the motive of “having justice operate flawlessly and seamlessly” and “in order to not leave any doubt on any issue.”
Gül appealed to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office upon the ending of his presidential term to initiate the required procedure to finalize the case. Due to his legal immunity from being a member of Parliament and later president, the case was halted during his tenure in office.
“Upon being summoned by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office within legal procedures to complete the related file, 11th President Abdullah Gül testified by going to the prosecutor’s office yesterday [Nov. 18],” the announcement posted on Gül's official website said on Nov. 19.
“Gül, who recalled that the Heavy Penal Court in charge of the ‘lost trillion’ case acquitted all party officials like himself and, in particular, even the general account of the [now defunct] Refah Party, expressed his satisfaction with the completion of this process, while emphasizing that he personally testified in order to have the justice system operate flawlessly and seamlessly and in order not to have any doubt remain on any issue,” it added.
Just a day after handing over his post to current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in late August, Gül had expressed his willingness to testify.
“My tenure is over. I will send my lawyers to the prosecutors soon and set a date for me to testify,” Gül was quoted as saying at the time.
Gül, who took office as president in 2007, announced in 2009 that he was ready to testify, but prosecutors, as well as legal experts on Turkey’s presidency, objected because of possible protocol problems.
The Treasury’s official aid provided to the Welfare Party, a forerunner of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was put in the spotlight in the late 1990s. After the Welfare Party was shut down in 1998, it was alleged that aid worth 1 trillion Turkish Liras was not returned to the Treasury because scores of party officials had siphoned it off.
Some 70 party officials, including late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, were handed prison sentences in “the lost trillion case” for using fake documents to show that the Treasury aid to the party had been properly spent. Party leader Erbakan’s 12.1-million-lira fine was later reduced to 1 million liras in 2011, and his prison sentence was also pardoned by Gül due to his advanced age.
Prosecutors had issued a verdict of non-prosecution for Gül, but Sincan Heavy Penal Court Judge Osman Kaçmaz later labeled him a “suspect” in the ruling.