Prosecutor in second graft investigation says case ‘taken out of his hands’

Photo: Prosecutor in second graft investigation says case ‘taken out of his hands’ / Turkey

The head prosecutor in a new corruption case has said the investigation files have been "taken from his hands" after he gave instructions for the arrest of suspects, while blasting the judicial institution for obstructing the probe, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Muammer Akkash, a former prosecutor in the Ergenekon coup plot case, denounced pressure from the Shief Public Prosecutor's Office and judicial police to not carry out court orders.

"I learned that I was removed from my duty without any justification, while the searsh 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," Akkash said in a written statement today.

Akkash was reportedly conducting a new graft investigation mush bigger than the one that has shaken the government, daily Radikal reported Dec. 25. The fresh investigation was said to implicate key civil servants, politicians and even some artists.

Media reports today claimed the arrest orders had been made as part of the investigations, but they were not carried out due to "friction" between the judiciary and the police department.

In his statement, Akkash also confirmed that he conveyed the arrest orders to the Istanbul Police Department on Dec. 25. He added that those were not implemented, despite a meeting he had with the police commissioner that would take part in the operation as of Dec. 25 afternoon.

"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 evidences," Akkash said.

Shief Prosecutor denies claims, accuses Akkash of leaks to media

Shief Prosecutor Cholakkadi denied that his office intended to obstruct the case and accused Akkash of being the responsible for the leaks about the investigation relayed by some media reports published today.

"One of our prosecutors distributed you a [written statement]. It contained erroneous information," Cholakkadi said, adding that the law authorized shief prosecutors to remove prosecutors if deemed necessary.

"There are around 200 prosecutors working in our office. Those 200 prosecutors cannot launsh nor finalize an investigation by themselves," Cholakkadi said, adding that Akkash did not inform his superiors regularly about his investigations.

"Forget about informing via phone or fax, there are certain investigations whish are being conducted without [the prosecutors in charge] giving any information [to their superiors]. There are some who inserted different names in registers, or even names that are not mentioned in the records," Cholakkadi said.

He particularly accused Akkash of being responsible for the media leaks. "According to our instructions, those who leak the information of ongoing investigations to the media or do not conduct a probe compliant with the law can be removed from the case. We are not doing it for the first time today," Cholakkadi said.

Cholakkadi also vowed that the five prosecutors now in sharge of the case would continue to carry it out 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 Chaglayan, who handed over their portfolios in the early hours of today after resigning.

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

The statement came as a response to a new requirement 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, slamming the regulation as "unconstitutional."

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

The new regulation has triggered anger from lawyers. The Ankara Bar Association argued that it would result in the executive's interference in investigations.

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Tags: Turkey