LIVE UPDATES - Prosecutor Akkaş says he was blocked from investigating new graft probe

LIVE UPDATES - Prosecutor Akkaş says he was blocked from investigating new graft probe

A plainclothes police officer reacts as riot police stand guard in front of the courthouse in İstanbul on Dec. 20. (Photo: Reuters, Osman Orsal)

December 26, 2013, Thursday/ 14:33:00

After the government took a new graft probe from prosecutor Muammer Akkaş -- a move that could further cast a shadow over the corruption investigation -- he told media that the case was taken from him without any reasons being cited, effectively blocking him from doing his job.

LIVE UPDATES


01:49 - AK Party spokesman says three deputies referred to discipline committee for expulsion from party

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Spokesman Hüseyin Çelik said in a written statement that three deputies have been referred to the discipline committee for expulsion from the party. Before his statement took place in the media, AK Party İzmir deputy Erdal Kalkan announced in social media that he resigned from the ruling party.


00:51- Ruling AK Party İzmir deputy resignes due to disagreement over graft probe

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) İzmir Deputy Erdal Kalkan resigned after he was being referred to the party's discipline committee for his critical remarks over the government's pressure on prosecutors who are leading the corruption investigation.


23:49 - Ruling AK Party refers three deputies to party's disciplinary board for their critical remarks

 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has referred three deputies, including former Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay, for their critical remarks on the party's approach to graft probe which led to resignations of three ministers.

AK Party Burdur deputy Hasan Hami Yıldırım, former Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay, AK Party İzmir deputy Erdal Kalkan have been referred to the party's discipline committee. They would face possible expulsion from the party, sources say.

Earlier in the day, AK Party Burdur deputy Yıldırım said pressure on Akkaş while doing his job is unacceptable. "In a country with the rule of law, such pressure [on the prosecutor] is not legitimate," Yıldırım tweeted following Akkuş's press conference.

AK Party İzmir deputy Kalkan also voiced criticism regarding mounting pressure on prosecutors leading the corruption investigation.

Kalkan lambasted İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Turan Çolakkadı, who publicly expressed his disagreement with Prosecutor Akkaş in a hasty press conference following the latter's press statement, saying that the prosecutors are the republic's prosecutors, not those of the government.

Many experts criticized Chief Public Prosecutor Çolakkadı for his pro-government stance regarding the ongoing corruption investigation.


17:30 - Turkey’s top judicial body says judicial police regulation against constitution

Turkey’s top judicial body has harshly criticized new judicial police regulation, saying that it is violation of the Turkish constitution.

The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) has said in a statement on Thursday that state institutions and executive offices must act in line with the principle of equality before law in all of their activities. It added that independent judiciary is guarantee of citizens against the rulers. The statement noted that judicial check on rulers for their illegal activities is an essential part of the democratic and state of rule of law.


17:20- İstanbul chief public prosecutor criticizes handling of corruption investigation

İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor has criticized handling of the corruption investigation into the alleged bribery and tender rigging in which dozens of well-known businessmen and sons of three ministers were detained.

İstanbul chief public prosecutor criticized prosecutors for launching the investigation last week without informing his office.


16:30 - Prosecutor Akkaş says he was blocked from investigating new graft probe

“All my colleagues and the public should know that I have been prevented from doing my duty,” the prosecutor said in a statement sent to media outlets on Thursday.

Akkaş is known for his work on sensitive cases like the Ergenekon coup plot and the murder of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

On Wednesday, the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office ordered the detention of 30 suspects, including a number of deputies and businessmen. The İstanbul Police Department, which saw an extensive purge of its top officers over the last week, has not complied with the order, however.

Akkaş was leading the investigation, which is seen as the second round of a graft probe that has shaken Turkey's political establishment.

Early media reports claimed that the investigation concerns al-Qaeda operations in Turkey as well as business deals in which deputies and public officials are involved.

Akkaş gave the order to detain the suspects to the İstanbul police in the afternoon. The police, however, did not immediately comply; the İstanbul Police Department did not assign a team to carry out the mission.

Full text of Prosecutor Akkaş's press statement:

It becomes a necessity to deliver this statement due to pressure I faced during the investigation that I led.

I have been leading an investigation into allegations of a criminal organization being formed for tender rigging, bribery, abuse of power, forgery of documents, intimidation and other crimes such as violation of Law No. 2863, that involve several well-known figures and some public servants. Yesterday morning [Wednesday], I submitted search, seizure and detention decisions by a court to the İstanbul Police Department in order to collect the pieces of evidence before they are eradicated. I noticed in media and some Internet websites names of the some of the suspects who were supposed to be detained and that the pieces of evidence were being destroyed. On the same day, I noticed that the court decision and the decision to detain the suspects were not carried out despite my meeting with police chiefs who were supposed to take part in the operation in the courthouse at 7:00 p.m.

Today, I learned that the investigation dossier, which includes search, seizure and detention decisions, was taken from my authority without any justification being offered. From now on, the responsibility is on the İstanbul chief public prosecutor and deputy chief public prosecutor. All my colleagues and the public should know that a public prosecutor prevented me from conducting the investigation.

For this reason, open pressure was put on the judiciary through the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office as well as security services who are responsible for implementing the decisions of prosecution, and the implementation of court decisions were prevented.  

By not implementing the court decisions, police chiefs committed a crime. An opportunity was given to suspects to take measures, escape or mitigate the evidence.

As a member of the judiciary that is expected to act as independent and neutral as one of the three basic branches of the state, we are expected to do what is necessary within the authority granted to us against crimes and those who committed a crime.

Our duty is not to ignore the violation of rights of the nation by fearing and holding back because of pressure but to realize our duty in the best way in a bid to protect the rights of our nation.

In this difficult process, I expect the whole legal community, particularly senior law workers, to defend the independence of the judiciary.


 16:10- MHP leader blasts Erdoğan's gov't over graft scandal

Commenting on the graft scandal that has hit the country, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said on Thursday that the stain upon ruling party can no longer be washed away given that the corruption has spread “all around.”

Bahçeli, in a press conference held prior to the party's general meeting, said: “The graft has wrapped around the entire country like an octopus. The corruption that has spread everywhere cannot be cleared away from this moment on,” calling further for an objective and fair trial as the country suffers from a “depression.”

“This gruesome graft scandal has rocked the country, marking the biggest blow in recent years. The ruling party has lost all of its moral values; the way it is desperate and puzzled is very pathetic in my view. It is of much significance that the probe should resume till the end, in an impartial manner though. These accusations and allegations should be blasted away. As long as the judiciary is transparent, Turkey will always win,” Bahçeli added.

He concluded his speech by slamming the government over its involvement in the corruption, further accusing the party of having a prior record of graft, without specifying particular incidents.


 

15:10 - AK Party deputy urges president to intervene in Turkey's political turmoil

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Ankara deputy Haluk Özdalga has stated that the political turmoil Turkey is going through is currently above the conflict between government and the Hizmet movement and needs an urgent intervention by President Abdullah Gül, further deeming it a crisis of both government and democracy.

“The turmoil we are going through -- which I call a crisis of government and democracy -- is at such an extent that the damage to the country's regime, economy and international esteem is growing incrementally,” Özdalga said, further adding that the support of the president is a must in such a chaotic atmosphere.

“Leaving all personal benefits and special conditions behind, the president should take steps towards [intervening] within the framework of his constitutional authorities. He seems to be the only way out to overcome the current crisis. The tension and chaos which cannot be eased might lead to permanent damage to the country. I personally think President Abdullah Gül should urgently intervene in this political turmoil and hope this unrest will come to a halt through the efforts of our president.”


14:30 - New graft probe taken from prosecutor Akkaş

On Wednesday, the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office ordered the detention of 30 suspects, including a number of deputies and businessmen. The İstanbul Police Department, which saw an extensive purge of its top officers over the last week, has not complied with the order, however.

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