Turkish Parliament to convene March 19 over corruption claims
The confirmation of the session represents a landmark development since Dec. 17, 2013.Parliament will meet in an extraordinary session to discuss summaries of proceedings regarding four former ministers. The confirmation of the session represents a landmark development since Dec. 17, 2013, when a massive corruption and graft probe engulfing the prime minister and some of his Cabinet members first went public.
“This is a judicial move. It should be seen within the framework of law on criminal procedure,” Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek told reporters on March 14. He also announced that Parliament would convene on March 19 as a result of three opposition parties’ calls.
The summary of proceedings regarding former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, former EU Minister Egemen Bağış, former Interior Minister Muammer Güler and former Urbanization and Environment Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar arrived at Çiçek’s office two weeks ago. These proceedings reportedly contain serious claims of corruption about these former ministers.
Three of the ministers in question have sons who have only recently been released from prison in the case, pending trial. All are accused of bribery involving dozens of millions of euros from an Azeri-origin businessman, Reza Zarrab.
Parliament is currently in recess due to the upcoming municipal elections on March 30. It will go to recess after the extraordinary convention March 19. The ruling party did not back the opposition’s appeal for the convention.
“Those who are talking about the issue are making political assessments. But this is a judicial move. As the parliamentary speaker, I have to fully obey the laws,” Çiçek told reporters, underlining that the summary of proceedings had been submitted to Parliament by the prosecutor.
He added that there were similar attempts against ministers in the past, but the difference in this case is that these proceedings have been submitted by the prosecutor, including all of the investigation files.
“Let’s all recall the law on criminal procedures. We will evaluate all in this framework,” he said.
AKP critical of the move
Although the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) confirmed its attendance to the General Assembly set for March 19, it continued to criticize the move to recall Parliament.
“The office of the prosecutor may submit a summary of proceedings, but not the investigation files. The office of the parliamentary speaker should keep the summary of proceedings, but return these files,” AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader Mustafa Elitaş told reporters on March 14.
Elitaş claimed that sending the investigation files meant putting Parliament into the place of judiciary, although it is a political institution.
On the opposition parties’ demand to establish a parliamentary commission to probe the corruption and graft claims, Elitaş said his party would consider it after seeing the scope and context of the proposal.