Turkey finishes 2013 with corruption row

Turkey finishes 2013 with corruption row

Turkey finishes 2013 with corruption row

The recent gripping corruption investigation indubitably left its mark on 2013, along with the nationwide anti-government protests between May and July. DAILY NEWS photo

Turkey ended the year 2013 with a gripping corruption investigation dominating the agenda and a conflict between the judicial and executive branches of government growing stronger.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) continued to hit out at a recent judicial board statement claiming the government was intervening with the investigation, as part of which two sons of ministers and a state-owned bank manager have been arrested.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has warned the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) that he, in his capacity as the head of the board, is the only authority that can release statements on behalf of the board.

Last week, the HSYK delivered a statement in which it described a new judicial police regulation obliging those carrying out investigations to inform superiors as “unconstitutional,” prompting Bozdağ to say the board did not have the authority to make such a statement, underlining it was made public without his knowledge.

Bozdağ’s statement came a day after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the lack of government auditing over the HSYK was “a mistake.” 

“We have made a mistake,” Erdoğan said in the Aegean province of Manisa. “We tried to practice democracy and gave away the Justice Ministry’s control [over the HSYK]. Nobody should be devoid of control. In this country, the prime minister is under control, ministers are under control, but those misters are not under control.”

Prosecutor Muammer Akkaş, who was fiercely criticized by Erdoğan after issuing a press statement last week saying the case had been taken from his hands without any reason and that the act was an “open intervention and was pressure on the judiciary,” made a new statement yesterday.

Akkaş implicitly confirmed reports that the “second wave” of the investigation was halted, saying the court decisions on searches and detentions had not been executed, evidence had been destroyed and that some suspects had possibly escaped.

Bozdağ’s warning to the HSYK was conveyed in a document titled “Renewal of Authority Transfer,” the state-run Anadolu Agency reported yesterday, citing anonymous sources.

“Since the authority of administering and representing the board belongs to the president, I request information and demands of the effects that the press statements, which will be made on behalf of the board, to be made by the president,” Anadolu quoted the document as saying.

New minister

Bozdağ, a former deputy prime minister, took over his current post from Sadullah Ergin, now running as the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) mayoral candidate for Hatay in the March 2014 local elections, as part of a recent Cabinet reshuffle.

Back in August 2013, when a prosecutor’s office released a journalist who hit Bozdağ during an Alevi festival, Bozdağ said, “I don’t know what the result would be if it was the prosecutors who were smacked.”

Upon such criticism, the HSYK released a statement in which it underlined, “In crimes for which the penalty is no longer than two years, arrest decisions cannot be made.”