Legal pressure on CHP municipalities escalates
Republican People’s Party leader Kılıçdaroğlu visits Eskişehir municipality in a show of solidarity after a police raid. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZOn the same day that main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu paid a visit to the CHP-led Eskişehir municipality in a show of support following a police raid on its workers, another legal operation was launched yesterday against Antalya Mayor Mustafa Akaydın, who is also a CHP member.
Speaking in Eskişehir, Kılıçdaroğlu once again accused the government of directing legal operations against CHP-led municipalities, while calling for support to be given to his party in the name of democracy.
“The CHP is the assurance of our national unity and our Republic. A plot is being sought over the CHP and its municipalities,” he said, describing this plot as “a defamation campaign.”
Kılıçdaroğlu, along with his party’s Central Executive Board (MYK) members, lawmakers, and party assembly members, visited the CHP-led Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality, from which 22 individual have recently been detained as part of an investigation into the “city development tender” dating back to 2006.
Meeting with Mayor
Travelling to Eskişehir in three buses with a large group in a show of solidarity, Kılıçdaroğlu held a closed-door meeting with Eskişehir Metropolitan Mayor Yılmaz Büyükerşen. Following the brief meeting, Kılıçdaroğlu addressed around 2,000 of his party’s supporters who had gathered in front of the municipality building in downtown Eskişehir.
“Eskişehir has become an oasis right in the middle of the steppe. The city has transformed into a modern and civilized city and turned into a benchmark for the whole world under Yılmaz Büyükerşen,” he said. Although the investigation regarding the tender was opened two years ago, no probe has yet been launched, despite the examination of the related documents having been completed, Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“They have launched the recent raid to besmirch the reputation of Büyükerşen ahead of the local election campaign. However, this operation has only built up Büyükerşen’s reputation, not besmirched it,” he said.
Meanwhile, at around the same time that Kılıçdaroğlu was in Eskişehir, the southern city of Antalya’s mayor Akaydın was called to testify in the latest legal probe to be launched over transport system payments in the city. Speaking to reporters after his four-and-a-half hour testimony, Akaydın said he had “no shameful acts to be accused of.”
Speaking to the Daily News, CHP Eskişehir lawmaker Süheyl Batum lamented that the police operations on CHP-led municipalities had been launched, even when there was no proof of any wrongdoing. “For a municipality, being led by CHP is sufficient reason to be subject of an investigation,” Batum said.
CHP mayors have long complained about judicial pressure applied on their institutions by the government. On Dec. 12, 2012, the CHP Istanbul mayors and the party’s provincial head held a press conference to say the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was playing the role of a bully, using “inspector oppression” against the CHP.
The first operation into a CHP municipality was held in March 2008, in which nine suspects, including Edirne Mayor Hamdi Sedefçi, were arrested for alleged corruption in tenders and for organized crime. The eight defendants, including Sedefçi, were released in July 2008. Sedefçi was finally acquitted in April 2012.
In 2011, Turkey’s third biggest municipality, the CHP-led İzmir, was raided by police a number of times on suspicion of there being alleged gangs inside the municipality management. Since May 2011, some 130 suspects, including İzmir Mayor Aziz Kocaoğlu, have been tried for their alleged links to a crime syndicate.