MHP leader accuses PM of cover-up in graft probe

Photo: MHP leader accuses PM of cover-up in graft probe / Turkey

The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of trying to cover up a recent graft probe in which four government ministers are also involved, Today's Zaman reported.

Maintaining that Erdogan is extremely afraid that ministers and bureaucrats will be tried in court for corruption, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said at a party meeting on Sunday that "those in power are disrupting a fair trial [of those accused of corruption]."

Bahceli, who was in Izmir to introduce the party's mayoral nominees for the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality and 30 cities and towns in Izmir for local elections set to take place at the end of March, lashed out at Erdogan, saying, "He is putting obstacles before prosecutors [investigating the corruption probe], preventing the police from carrying out their duty."

Four ministers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the sons of three of the ministers and Suleyman Aslan, general manager of the public Halkbank, are among the suspects of a graft probe launched two weeks ago.

According to the MHP leader, Erdogan was trying to cover up the corruption in government when he recently said, in relation to the graft probe, that the government was now leading a war of independence against some foreign powers. "How in the world could covering up corruption be presented as a war of independence?" the MHP leader demanded to know. "The prime minister claimed, without shame, that there is no corruption and bribery [within the government], but that claims voiced by representatives of the 'interest rate lobby' and 'gangs' are just slander aimed at stopping Turkey from getting stronger," Bahceli added.

In a shocking graft probe launched two weeks ago by the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office, a summary of proceedings of the investigation was sent to Parliament and prosecutors asked Parliament for the legislative immunity of four ministers of the ruling AK Party allegedly involved in corruption to be removed. A second phase in the graft probe the prosecutor intended to launch last week was prevented by the government and the probe file was taken away from him.

The prosecutor's removal came only a day after he had ordered the detention of 30 suspects, including a number of deputies and businessmen. The Istanbul Police Department, which has seen an extensive purge of its top officers in the past two weeks, did not comply with the detention order.

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