Judge on Turkey’s top appeals court swept murder case under the rug: columnist

Yüksel Kocaman and Erdogan
Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman came to public attention in Turkey when he visited President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at his presidential palace with his bride on his wedding day and received gifts there in September 2020.

Yüksel Kocaman, a controversial figure and member of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals, has been accused of throwing out a murder case during his time as the Ankara chief public prosecutor, Boldmedya reported on Friday, citing columnist Barış Pehlivan.

According to Pehlivan’s article published in the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Kocaman swept the murder of businessman Ömer Faruk Ilıcan, the board chairman of the Kalegaz company, under the rug and had a subordinate prosecutor reassigned for attempting to investigate further.

The businessman’s murder was allegedly orchestrated by the executives of another corporation, Kadooğlu Holding. Honorary president Cemal Kadooğlu was initially detained, and his son, Tarkan Kadooğlu, was at large.

Pehlivan claimed that ruling party deputy Ahmet Uzer intervened in favor of the defendants with whom he allegedly had financial dealings and spoke to then-justice minister Abdülhamit Gül in an effort to influence the outcome of the investigation.

He also claimed that Kocaman later had a secret meeting with Cemal Kadooğlu at his office in the Ankara courthouse and gave instructions to investigating prosecutor Ali İhsan Akdoğan.

When Akdoğan refused to comply with Kocaman’s instruction and drafted an indictment identifying Cemal Kadooğlu as a suspect, Kocaman withdrew the indictment from the court, saying it was sent “by mistake,” according to Pehlivan. Akdoğan was later reassigned to another job, and the investigation was transferred to a different prosecutor.

Pehlivan also claimed that the judges presiding over the case were pressured into releasing the primary murder suspect and that those who resisted were reappointed.

Kocaman recently came to prominence with a number of allegations of misconduct and bribery, most notably as part of the leaking of an off-the-record statement given to the police by arrested mobster Ayhan Bora Kaplan, who claimed that he had given Kocaman a luxurious villa and a car.

Kocaman had also sparked a debate about judicial independence in Turkey, or the lack thereof, when he visited President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at his presidential palace with his bride on his wedding day and received gifts there in September 2020.

Shortly after the visit, he was appointed as a member of the country’s Supreme Court of Appeals by Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK).

Kocaman also had ordered the detention of 82 Kurdish politicians in September 2020 and led the conviction of jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş because Demirtaş accused him of drafting an indictment against him and the other Kurdish politicians in disregard of the law and said he would settle accounts with him one day in court. Demirtaş was given a 30-month sentence in October 2022 on charges of threatening and targeting a public official who was part of the fight against terrorism.

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