AK Party drafts resolution on former ministers for corruption

AK Party drafts resolution on former ministers for corruption

Opposition chanted slogans against corruption during voting in Parliament on March 19 regarding former ministers allegedly involved in graft. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Mevlüt Karabulut)

April 24, 2014, Thursday/ 18:43:36/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM / ISTANBUL
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) submitted its new revised resolution for the establishment of a commission to examine allegations of misconduct and graft leveled against four former Cabinet ministers to the Parliament Speaker's Office on Thursday in which the ruling party included all allegations directed at the ministers.

The first resolution submitted earlier by the AK Party was harshly criticized by the opposition parties as it lacked all allegations directed at the four ministers, who were implicated in a major corruption and bribery investigation that became public on Dec. 17 of last year. The opposition parties objected to the AK Party resolution because it only mentioned misconduct by the ministers while in office and ignored the bribery and corruption accusations. Taking the criticism of the opposition into consideration, the ruling party withdrew its first resolution and prepared a new one. The party submitted this revised resolution to Parliament on Thursday.

During the presentation section of the resolution, the AK Party pointed to constitutional provisions such as Article 36 of the Constitution which states that no one shall be considered guilty until proven so in a court of law and highlighted that the suspects should benefit from the principle of the presumption of innocence and be provided with necessary opportunities to be able to defend themselves in court.

The new resolution, carrying the signatures of AK Party Isparta deputy Süreyya Bilgiç and 76 other AK Party deputies, included the allegations that have been featured in the media and the public since Dec. 17, 2013, when the major graft probe became public through several police raids and resultant detentions.

The resolution also included the preliminary statement of the summary of proceedings concerning the four former ministers that was sent earlier by the prosecutor's office conducting the graft probe to Parliament. The preliminary statement reads: “Suspect Reza Zarrab, against whom the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office's Smuggling and Narcotics Crimes Bureau directed charges such as forming and managing a crime syndicate, engaging in forgery of official documents, smuggling, and receiving and giving bribes, and certain persons, who are claimed to have links with those charges directed at Zarrab, were detained on Dec. 17, 2013. The investigation against those persons is still ongoing. Allegations that Mersin deputy Mehmet Zafer Çağlayan, who was the economy minister, Mardin deputy Muammer Güler, who was the interior minister, and İstanbul deputy Egemen Bağış, who was the EU affairs minister, had illegal links with Reza Zarrab while they were at their ministry posts have come to the public agenda since Dec. 17.”

The summary of preceding that was prepared by the prosecutor's office against former Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar was handled separately from the motions concerning the other ministers.

Allegations against four former ministries in new resolution

Regarding the allegations against former Minister Çağlayan, the resolution stated: “It has been alleged that this individual [Çağlayan] acquired material benefit, the amount or value of which has yet to be determined, from Reza Zarrab in return for concessions for Zarrab's export of gold to Iran, in return for preventing administrative and criminal investigations from being launched against Zarrab, who was allegedly trying to bring in 1.5 tons of gold from Ghana to Turkey through illegal means, and also in return for facilitating the illegal smuggling of these 1.5 tons of gold to Dubai.”

About former Minister Güler, the resolution stated Güler allegedly acquired material benefit from Zarrab in return for giving Zarrab the privilege of freely using emergency traffic lanes and for appointing a special ministry bodyguard to Zarrab. Güler is also accused of ordering that a number of German suspects, who were among the detainees in the graft probe, be given Turkish citizenship through exceptional means and of attempting to prevent some media outlets from reporting on crimes allegedly committed by Zarrab.

Media reports also claimed in February that license plates reserved for use by the Interior Ministry were issued for Zarrab's vehicles.

In the resolution, Bağış is accused of acquiring material benefit from Zarrab in exchange for arbitrating Zarrab's attempt to buy a tourism certified hotel and helping Zarrab's relatives who had applied for visas.

About Minister Bayraktar, the resolution included the allegations that Bayraktar approved certain construction development plans and overlooked irregularities present in them in exchange for material benefit.

Further in the resolution, the AK Party repeated its request for Parliament to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations directed at the four former ministers. Parliamentary discussions on the AK Party's resolution and four other separate resolutions that were submitted earlier by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) regarding the four ministers are expected to take place on May 5.

The summary of proceedings involving Güler, Çağlayan, Bağış and Bayraktar reached Parliament in February, but the government initially prevented Parliament from debating the content due to the March local elections that were then approaching. The four ministers implicated left their posts soon after the major graft operation was revealed on Dec. 17, 2013. They have denied any wrongdoing.