Probationary conditions for graft probe suspects lifted upon prosecutor’s request

Probationary conditions for graft probe suspects lifted upon prosecutor’s request

Probationary conditions for graft probe suspects lifted upon prosecutor’s request

An asset freeze against Reza Zarrab, considered the key suspect in the case, was also controversially lifted last week. The young Iranian-born Azeri businessman is among the 11 suspects still in custody. AA photo

Probationary conditions, which had been ordered for suspects in the graft probe investigation, have all been lifted upon the request of the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, daily Star reported Feb. 10. 

Prosecutors demanded the removal of the restrictions, such as travel bans, from 80 of the 91 suspects who are not under detention pending trial, on the grounds of lack of evidence justifying the measures.

“Evidence suggesting that the suspects committed the crimes for which they are charged and would require their monitoring are lacking in the files,” Prosecutor Ekrem Aydıner said in his deliberation. 

Aydıner is currently the only prosecutor working in the high-profile case after the prosecutor who launched the investigation, Celal Kara, was removed from his duty last week. His appointment two days after the raids, which included the detentions of the sons of three ex-ministers and the general manager of state-run Halkbank, also heightened concerns that the government was interfering in the investigation.

In line with the latest ruling, suspects who were released after the initial interrogations, including billionaire construction magnate Ali Ağaoğlu, are allowed to take back their telephones, seized as a part of the investigations. 

Barış Güler, the son of ex-Interior Minister Muammer Güler, and Kaan Çağlayan, the son of ex-Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, have been held in custody since the Dec. 17 raids. Halkbank’s then-Chairman Süleyman Aslan and Reza Zerrab, an Iranian-born Azeri businessman who is the key suspect in the case and whose close ties with government figures are under scrutiny, are also still detained. 

Turkish media reported last week that Prosecutor Kara had demanded sentences of over 100 years for the suspects before being removed from the case.

A suspect, allegedly at the center of the bribery network, was facing up to 336 years in jail in the indictment, while prosecutors asked for 137 years in jail for another key suspect, daily Cumhuriyet reported.

However, Aydıner announced that he would write the indictments from scratch after taking over the case in its entirety. 

The Turkish government has repeatedly accused a “parallel state” under the order of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen of orchestrating the probes.