Turkish PM denies bid to stifle graft investigation

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said corruption allegations against four former ministers were part of a "coup attempt", denying on Tuesday that the government had put pressure on a parliamentary commission not to send them to trial.

Turkish PM denies bid to stifle graft investigation
World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday that his party had "never been involved by any means" in the Turkish parliamentary committee’s decision not to try four former ministers accused of corruption.

The head of the commission said some police phone taps of the ex-ministers would be destroyed.

"Normally the prosecutor should have done this but because they haven't, an investigation is being launched into them. We will be the ones destroying these tapes," commission head Hakki Koylu told Reuters.

A 14-member panel Monday voted against sending four former ministers to trial before the Supreme Council, also known as the Constitutional Court, over corruption allegations.

Nine members voted against a trial while five voted in favor. 

"We respect the objective report of the committee and the final decision of the Grand Assembly," Davutoglu said, speaking at his Justice and Development (AK) Party's parliamentary group meeting in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

The Turkish PM stressed that AK Party had never tried to influence committee members to vote against, or in favor, of a trial. 

"However, the opposition parties made every day comments reflecting bias," Davutoglu said. 

Davutoglu said it would be against the law for the government to impose a decision on the commission.

He cast a string of turbulent events, including nationwide anti-government demonstrations in 2013 and a wiretapping scandal last year, as part of a wider plot.

"Regardless of the commission's decision ... it was all, without doubt, a coup attempt and we have stood tall against this," he told AK Party MPs and supporters in a speech regularly interrupted by cheering.

The committee was composed of 14 lawmakers from different political parties. There were nine from the ruling AK Party, four from the main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, and one member from the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP.

In May 2014, the inquiry committee began its investigation into corruption allegations against former Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, ex-Interior Minister Muammer Guler, former Urbanization Minister Erdogan Bayraktar and former EU Minister Egemen Bagis.

All four were linked to an anti-graft probe, which was launched on Dec. 17, 2013.

Now, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey will give its final decision over the trial of the ministers, Turkish PM reiterated. 

After the corruption inquiry committee issues a report of its findings to the parliament by Jan. 9, lawmakers will vote by secret ballot in the general assembly to determine whether the four former ministers will face a trial.

The commission's decision effectively backed Erdogan's efforts to stamp out the scandal, which he blames on supporters of his former ally, U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The government has reacted with a purge of the state apparatus, reassigning thousands of police and hundreds of judges and prosecutors deemed loyal to Gulen, in what the authorities said was a cleansing of the cleric's influence.

Turkey's Western allies have repeatedly called for a transparent investigation into the allegations. Erdogan has responded by telling Turkey's European partners to "keep their wisdom to themselves".


Last Mod: 06 Ocak 2015, 16:07
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