Corruption investigations into Turkey’s AKP gov’t will be relaunched, says opposition lawmaker

Levent Gök, a lawmaker from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has said they intend to reopen the December 17-25, 2013 bribery and corruption investigations, which implicated, among others, the sons of three cabinet ministers as well as the son of then-prime minister and current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Speaking to a local television channel, Gök explained that the corruption investigations back in 2013 were among the most important in Turkey’s history and that there had been strong evidence against the ministers, the prime minister and their children.

He said he supported relaunching the investigations and re-examining the evidence that has been denied by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Adding that it was important to root out corruption, Gök pointed out that Turkey was currently ranked 96th among 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index.

The December 17-25, 2013 bribery and corruption investigations related to state-owned Halkbank shook the country in 2013 and included the sons of three cabinet ministers and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan.

Despite the scandal resulting in the resignation of the cabinet members, the investigations were dropped after prosecutors and police chiefs were removed from the case. Erdoğan, officials of the ruling AKP and the pro-government media have described the investigations as an attempt to overthrow the government.

Dismissing the investigations as a conspiracy against his government by the Gülen movement, a group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, Erdoğan designated the faith-based movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members.

He locked up thousands, including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigations.

Some of the claims that were part of the corruption investigations were later substantiated in New York federal court where Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla was sentenced to 32 months for conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran and other offenses.

Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

The Turkish government removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt. In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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