Turkish MPs put off inquiry into ministers

Photo: Turkish MPs put off inquiry into ministers / Turkey

Turkish MPs have rejected holding a general meeting on whether to set up a parliamentary committee to investigate corruption charges against four former ministers, effectively putting off debates until after the March 30 local elections Anadolu Agency reported.

Main opposition party CHP has submitted a motion of investigation to the parliament, which is to be debated in the General Assembly in the span of a month while the ruling AK Party plans to bring a motion of its own.

The AK Party has expressed its commitment to forming a committee, and has the majority to have it passed in the parliament.

The 15-member committee would have legal authority to prosecute the charges against the ministers. If it finds grounds for a trial, it could suggest in its report to the General Assembly that the ministers be deferred to the Supreme Court after a parliamentary vote.

The four former ministers - Muammer Guler, Erdogan Bayraktar, Zafer Caglayan, and Egemen Bagis - left the cabinet, three in resignation and Bagis after a cabinet reshuffle, in the wake of the December 17 anti-graft investigations.

- MPs' access to information on charges

Wednesday's extraordinary meeting saw a heated debate on whether to establish the committee to investigate the charges.

Opposition MPs have requested that the parliamentary proceedings, which contain information on the charges and have been submitted to the Parliament, be read out in full in the General Assembly.

Ruling AK Party members dispute this idea, saying that MPs could access the proceedings through a parliamentary committee in order to look into the charges.

CHP parliamentary group deputy chairman Akif Hamzacebi told the Assembly that MPs were entitled to peruse the proceedings to be able to decide whether it was necessary to open an inquiry committee.

"You don't have the right to submit a summary or shortened version of the proceedings," Hamzacebi said. "You can't hide this information from the deputies. Otherwise, you would be committing a crime."

AK Party parliamentary group deputy chairman Nurettin Canikli opposed Hamzacebi's stance, saying it was out of the question for the information to be held back from MPs.

"We want MPs to reach this information through the committee. When it is set up, members of the committee will be able to access and examine the proceedings in their entirety, and make their decision accordingly."

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