Prosecutors reviewing proceedings on ministers in Turkey

Prosecutors reviewing proceedings on ministers in Turkey

It has emerged that Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has asked prosecutors whether the charges against the four former Cabinet members were due to "crimes regarding their duties" or "personal crimes", the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek announced Feb. 5 that the Justice Ministry had sent the summaries of proceedings against the four former ministers back to the prosecutor's office. Bozdağ will decide whether to send the summary of proceedings to Parliament or not according to the prosecutors' answer.

Bozdağ's choice to not send the summary of proceedings to Parliament has led to harsh reactions from the opposition, with the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) arguing Bozdağ committed a constitutional crime by doing so.

The summary of proceedings has been drafted as part of a massive corruption probe launched Dec. 17. Former EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış, former Interior Minister Muammer Güler and former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan were all subject to the summaries of proceedings due to corruption and bribery allegations.

A summary of proceedings about former Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar has also been drafted as Turkey's state-run housing agency, the Housing Development Administration (TOKİ), working under the Prime Ministry, was involved in the corruption allegations. Bayraktar was the former head of the body.

Bozdağ justified his decision by arguing the summary of proceedings regarding the four involved their zone of duty, thus was against a related circular from the ministry.

Remarks from Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, speaking recently with a group of journalists at Parliament, were more elaborate.

"The Justice Ministry's circular, dated 2011, arranges how the summary of proceedings should be sent and it has three headlines. The first one is about the repetition of remarks delivered at the Parliament rostrum. The second is in regard to ministers who are charged with crimes involving their duties. The third relates to personal crimes," Atalay said.

"The Justice Ministry sent the summary of proceedings back to the prosecutor because it was not clear in the file whether it was 'personal crime' or 'crime about duty.' The ministry will accordingly hold an operation over the file and decide whether they should be directly sent to Parliament," he added.

Concerns raised

The issue was on the agenda during a meeting held by the Administrative Board of the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) parliamentary group last week.

"Now, we have paved the way; the summary of proceedings regards all ministers, not just these four ministers, and will be directly sent to the Parliament by prosecutors. The Parliament Speaker's Office does not have the authority to put these on the shelf," some members said at the meeting.

Earlier, the AKP had decided to send the summary of proceedings regarding the four ministers to Parliament after the local elections March 30 and initiate the founding of an investigation commission regarding the issue.

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