Fraud case starts with rallies

Fraud case starts with rallies

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Fraud case starts with rallies

Supporters of İzmir Mayor Kocaoğlu stage a protest as he stands before the judges. DHA photo

A court in İzmir ruled yesterday to proceed with a massive fraud case centered on the main opposition-led municipality and the city’s mayor after dismissing objections from defense lawyers that it lacked jurisdiction on the matter.

A total of 130 suspects, including Mayor Aziz Kocaoğlu, face charges of official misconduct, forgery, bribery, embezzlement, rigging state tenders, concealing crimes, protecting criminals and establishing and running a crime syndicate.

“It is Mayor Aziz Kocaoğlu that is on trial, and [the city of] İzmir in the person of [130] people,” said Mustafa Balbay, an İzmir deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) who is himself under arrest as part of the Ergenekon trials.

A large crowd gathered outside the courthouse to demonstrate its solidarity with Kocaoğlu. Suspects arriving at the courthouse had difficulty entering the building due to the crowds blocking their way.

Defense lawyers issued their request for lack of jurisdiction on the grounds that the suspects were not part of a crime syndicate, according to Doğan news agency.

“The investigation has been run without the due processes of law. We request the removal of evidence that has not been obtained in compliance with the relevant articles of the Code of Criminal Procedure from the file. This evidence cannot be used against the suspects,” said Ercan Demir, a lawyer for Kocaoğlu and a number of other suspects.

Some 21 suspects arrested pending trial attended yesterday’s hearing. The remaining suspects, who are being tried without arrest, are set to appear in court tomorrow. The first session of the hearing will continue until April 13.