An investigation into the financial assets of the civilian actors of the Feb. 28, 1997 military coup has revealed that there was a significant increase in the finances of 10 journalists after the coup, the Taraf daily reported on Monday.
The investigation was carried out by the Finance Ministry's Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) upon an order from Ankara Public Prosecutor Mustafa Bilgili, who is overseeing the investigation into the Feb. 28 coup. Experts from MASAK were joined by others from the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) and from the National Police Department in carrying out the investigation.
The Feb. 28 coup concerns the forced resignation of a coalition government led by a now-defunct, conservative party, the Welfare Party (RP), by the military on the grounds that there was religious fundamentalism in the country.
The trial of the military actors of the coup began at an Ankara court earlier this month, and there are increasing calls for a trial of the coup's civilian actors such as businessmen, academics, journalists and civil society representatives.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also questioned why civilian contributors and supporters of the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed coup, including business circles and media organs that were supportive of the intervention, have not yet been called to account.
“Did financial circles and some journalists not contribute to Feb. 28? I really wonder why they are not standing trial,” Erdogan asked last Thursday.
MASAK, which has investigated a total of 100 people for their alleged involvement in the coup, has found that there are some public officials who own mansions by the Bosporus and have around TL 5 million in their bank accounts.
The board also revealed that a famous journalist who pumped fears of religious fundamentalism with his articles during the coup days has government bonds worth more than TL 6 million and luxurious houses in various parts of İstanbul.
MASAK also found that some journalists who were influential during the coup currently have bank accounts in excess of millions of dollars.
The MASAK team compared the bank accounts, title deeds and salary and tax declarations of the civilian supporters of the coup before and after the coup, between 1996 and 2002, and found out that there was a large disparity between the wealth and the salary and tax declarations made by these people.
The notes made by the MASAK team about the financial assets of the civilian actors of the Feb. 28 coup have not yet been forwarded to the Ankara prosecutor.
The financial standings of some former deputies from the True Path Party (DYP), whose actions led to the collapse of the coalition government in 1997 by handing in their resignations, were also investigated by MASAK. MASAK found a remarkable increase in their wealth, which is likely to confirm claims that the deputies had been bribed.
The exact reason for the unusual increase in the wealth of the civilian actors of the coup is expected to be revealed by the investigation by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, which will likely summon the civilian actors to testify as part of the probe into the Feb. 28 coup.