Legal proceedings underway for Turkish Justice Minister Bozdağ
Minister Bozdağ confirmed that the two prosecutors investigating him are from Adana and İzmir. AA PhotoJustice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has indicated that two separate summaries of proceedings against him may shortly be sent to Parliament.
“Two of our prosecutors have kept such minutes, they have sent them,” Bozdağ said on Jan. 24, when asked about claims that such proceedings were now underway.
In line with ordinary procedures, the summaries should have first been sent to the prime minister’s office and then to Parliament.
Bozdağ confirmed that the two prosecutors investigating him are from Adana and İzmir.
On Jan. 21, Bozdağ acknowledged that the ministry’s undersecretary had on Jan. 6 called a chief prosecutor conducting an investigation into fraud claims at İzmir Harbor, but dismissed opposition allegations that the dialogue was “threatening.”
As for the case in Adana; a prosecutor’s attempt to search a truck allegedly carrying weapons and ammunition en route to Syria was blocked on Jan. 1 by the Hatay governor. The truck then continued on its path after the prosecutor took note of the development. The government later claimed that the truck was carrying aid to Turkmens in Syria.
Bozdağ, who earlier justified what happened in the İzmir case by stating that prosecutors and judges were administratively attached to the Justice Ministry, strongly denied on Jan. 24 that he had said anything illegal.
“I have never given an order to a person who fulfills his judicial duty by saying ‘Don’t fulfill your duty,’” he said, adding that he and his undersecretary had simply asked for the “just conduct” of the investigation, in line with the Constitution and the law. “We want sensitivity to be shown about this … there cannot be anything more natural than this [demand].”
Such incidents of tension between judges and prosecutors and the Justice Ministry come as ties between the government and the movement of the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen are more strained than ever, in the wake of a graft probe launched in December. In response to the damaging graft scandal, the government responded with massive purges at the Police Department and a move to increase its control over the judiciary.
“My life is obvious. At the moment, it is understood that there is a service. Whether it is from the Cemaat or others, I don’t know,” Bozdağ said, indicating the involvement of followers of the Gülen Movement; often referred to as the Hizmet (Service) Movement or “Cemaat” (Community in Turkish).
Bozdağ, a former deputy prime minister, was appointed to his current post on Dec. 25 as part of a big Cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in the aftermath of the high-level graft probe that has shaken the government.
His predecessor, Sadullah Ergin, was earlier announced as the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate for the upcoming local elections in the southern province of Hatay.