Mayor goes on trial for misconduct claims

Mayor goes on trial for misconduct claims

ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Mayor goes on trial for misconduct claims

Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş is being charged with unlawful transfer of some 150 million Turkish Liras for the purchase of 50 buses to be used in the city. AA photo

The first hearing of the case against Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş that began after opposition deputies filed a complaint charging misconduct in office in connection with the purchase of some 50 metrobuses took place yesterday.

“Unfortunately, it took three years for this case to be filed against Kadir Topbaş. ... This lawsuit pertains to the unlawful transfer of some 150 million [Turkish Liras] for the purchase of 50 Phileas buses that are currently being operated as metrobuses,” said Oğuz Kaan Salıcı, the Istanbul provincial head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

The court adjourned the hearing and scheduled the next session for Oct. 3. The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office has requested between one and three years in prison for Topbaş in the indictment, although the outgoing mayor did not attend the trial, citing his busy schedule.

“We all saw how a proposal letter sent by the firm turned into the terms of a contract, and how these buses with inadequate engine capacity broke down during the press promotion organized by Kadir Topbaş,” Salıcı said.

Salıcı also added that members of the Municipal Council from the CHP were in possession of reports indicating that the buses in question were incapable of operating in a city like Istanbul that is full of hills and steep slopes.

“These reports demonstrate the impossibility of these buses performing normally under Turkey’s circumstances, including maintenance work,” he said.

Topbaş stands accused in the indictment of choosing the company Phileas over its rival CapaCity despite the more advantageous financial terms offered by the latter.

“This trial belongs to the people of Istanbul. Since the money comes out of Istanbul, and it is the people of Istanbul who have to push the vehicles that break down on the road, they had to learn of the account behind this,” said Bülent Soylan, a former member of the the CHP.