Turkey: Commission Votes Not to Send Ex-Ministers to Trial
A special parliamentary commission voted in Turkey today, Jan. 5,not to pursue prosecutions against four former ministers of President Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over allegations of major corruption that surfaced ina graft investigation in 2013.
The Investigation Commission had been tasked with deciding whether or not to forwarda dossier ofevidence from the corruption probe, which alleged money laundering, bribery and fraud,to the General Assembly and the Turkish Parliament.
The investigation reportedly consisted of two waves,on Dec. 17 and 26, 2013, that shook up the government and damaged the reputation of the AKP. The first alleged that Turkish officials were buying oil from Iran in defiance of UN sanctions. That probe led to the resignation of ministers Muammar Guler (Interior), Zafer Caglayan (Economy), Erdogan Bayraktar (Environment and Urbanization), and Egemen Bagis (EU affairs).
The second wave of the probe was to be launched by prosecutor Muammer Akkas, but stalled when Akkas was dismissed. According to a list leaked to Turkish media, it would have named Erdogan and other family members. Erdogan called it an attempted coup, and accused the moderate Islamic opinion leader Fetullah Gulen of conspiring to overthrow him.
The vote today means that the four ministers will not have to face a Supreme Court trial.
Nine of the 15 members of the Investigation Commission were members of AKP. Observers speaking before the voteexpressed concerns that the strength of representation for Erdogan's party could bias the verdict.