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Chief prosecutor claims corruption investigation obstructed

26 December 2013

The chief prosecutor in charge of a new corruption investigation, said to be even more serious than the ongoing case, has said that his investigation has been obstructed by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Muammer Akkas was highly critical of the judiciary, claiming that it had acted to interfere with his investigation, by exerting pressure to disregard his orders to arrest certain politicians and key civil servants implicated in corrupt activities. Akkas said that files had been “taken from his hands”.

 “I learned that I was removed from my duty without any justification, while the search warrants, seizure [of materials] and arrest orders [were also taken from me]. The responsibility from now on falls with the Istanbul public prosecutor and his deputy. All of the public and my colleagues should know that my task as a prosecutor has been obstructed,” Akkas said in a written statement today (Thursday).

Reports say that Akkas was conducting a fresh corruption investigation, even greater than the current probe that has created a huge amount of upheaval in the government and the removal of a number of Cabinet ministers from their posts, daily ‘Radikal’ reported 25th December.

According to the media, the arrests were not carried out because of a disagreement between the judiciary and the police.

In his statement, Akkas also confirmed that he issued the arrest orders to the Istanbul Police Department on 25th December. He added that these were not implemented, despite a meeting he had had with the police commissioner who would be taking part in the operation on the afternoon of 25th December.

“By not implementing the court decisions, the police commissioners have committed a crime. They have also allowed room for the suspects to take measures, escape or tamper with the evidence,” Akkas said.

For his part, Chief Prosecutor Colakkadi denied that it was his office’s intention to obstruct the case and accused Akkas of being the responsible for the leaks about the investigation which were published by the media today.

“One of our prosecutors distributed a [written statement]. It contained erroneous information,” Colakkadi said, adding that the law authorised chief prosecutors to remove prosecutors if deemed necessary.

“There are around 200 prosecutors working in our office. Those 200 prosecutors cannot launch nor finalise an investigation by themselves,” Colakkadi said, adding that Akkas had not informed his superiors regularly about his investigations. He also said that it was not the first time a prosecutor had been removed from his post.

Colakkadi also gave assurances that the five prosecutors now in charge of the case would continue the investigations impartially. “No evidence can be tampered with. Whoever is guilty, whoever’s son he is, what’s necessary will be done by justice,” he said.

Twenty-four people have been formally arrested under the corruption investigation that hit Turkey last week, including the sons of Interior Minister Muammer Guler and Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, who handed over their portfolios in the early hours of today after resigning.

In the meantime, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) has published a statement which stressed the importance of the judicial accountability of the executive.

The statement came as a response to a new requirement, implemented after the news broke out about the corruption investigations, to oblige those working on investigations to inform superiors.

“The judicial accountability of those who govern in cases that they engage illegal acts or transactions is a necessity of a democratic state and the rule of law,” the statement said, denouncing the new regulation as “unconstitutional.”

“If a prosecutor or judge is thought to have performed an action contrary to law, the body at which to file a complaint is the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors. The HSYK assesses the complaints with rigour and implements disciplinal penalties on those whose crimes can be established,” the statement also said.

The Ankara Bar Association, outraged by the new regulation, stated that it could potentially interfere with the executive’s investigations.

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