Judges in Turkey’s major match-fixing case face probe

Judges in Turkey’s major match-fixing case face probe

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Judges in Turkey’s major match-fixing case face probe

AA photo

The country’s top judicial body, the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), has launched an investigation into judges in the July 2011 match-fixing case, which shook Turkey’s football scene.

The investigation was launched on April 13 into the former head of 16th Court of Serious Crimes and Bakırköy judge Mehmet Ekinci, Van judge Hikmet Şen and Istanbul judge Bülent Kınay, who are former members of the court.

Upon a complaint by Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım’s lawyer, the 1st Chamber of the HSYK, which examined the allegations on Ekinci, Şen and Kınay, decided to open an investigation into the allegations.

The decision was sent to Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, who is also the council head, for approval.

The head of the court and members in the match-fixing case did not provide records of the original hearing recorded via visual, audial and technical tools to the defendants, forcing the lawyers for the defendants to obtain the aforementioned records during the Court of Cassation’s examination of the appeal, the bill of complaint alleged.

The judges allegedly created a fake hearing record by not including the defendants’ and their lawyers’ verbal defenses in some records, excessively using the “copy-paste” method and including statements that the defendants and their lawyers did not actually make.

An investigation into the match-fixing claims was opened on July 3, 2011. Yıldırım was first sentenced to jail in 2012 and fined 1.3 million Turkish Liras ($560,000) for forming a criminal gang and engaging in match-fixing during the 2010-2011 season. He served around one year behind bars before being freed pending a retrial.

An Istanbul prosecutor demanded on Oct. 5, 2015, the acquittal of high-profile suspects, including Yıldırım. The Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court issued its unanimous ruling on Oct. 9, acquitting Yıldırım, as well as other high-profile suspects, including Olgun Peker, Şekip Mosturoğlu, Cemil Turan, İlhan Ekşioğlu, Mecnun Odyakmaz, Bülent Uygun, İbrahim Akın, Ümit Karan and Gökçek Vederson.

The match-fixing probe was originally launched by Zekeriya Öz, one of the prosecutors involved in the December 2013 graft investigation targeting key cabinet members and Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who was jailed in the United States last month for breaking the Washington-imposed embargo on Tehran, as well as fraud. All cases involving the ministers and Zarrab were dropped in Turkey. 

Öz has since been investigated as part of government attempts to target sympathizers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen but fled the country last year to avoid prosecution.

Yıldırım has repeatedly claimed that the match-fixing case was a politically motivated plot hatched by the Gülen movement.