A Turkish forensic expert has admitted to accepting bribes and submitted a list of 53 judges and prosecutors who he said had also accepted bribes amid allegations of rampant corruption in the country’s judiciary sparked by a letter from the İstanbul chief public prosecutor in October, Turkish Minute reported, citing a report by the Birgün news website and court documents.
In the letter sent on October 6 to the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK), Turkey’s top judicial body, İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor İsmail Uçar detailed allegations of bribery, nepotism and other irregularities within the judicial system.
The confession of forensic expert Mehmet Doğan and the publication of the list come in the wake of Uçar’s allegations of widespread corruption within the judiciary.
Doğan’s story dates back to 2018, when businessman Fehmi Öztürk complained about his former business partner, Fırat M. Öztürk sued his partner, claiming that $50 million in assets and his urban redevelopment and shopping center project worth $360 million had been “plundered” by Fırat M.
Doğan, who was prohibited from working as a forensic expert at the time, was instructed by the Büyükçekmece chief public prosecutor to prepare a false expert report about the dispute. Although he was banned from working as a forensic expert, Doğan prepared an expert opinion that portrayed businessman Öztürk as the guilty party.
Doğan then allegedly demanded a bribe of TL 25,000 from Öztürk to rectify the situation.
However, Öztürk reported the incident to the authorities and gave the bribe to Doğan under police surveillance, whereupon the latter was detained on the spot. Doğan was then arrested on charges of “forgery of an official document.”
In a confession made in 2022, Doğan stated that he was imprisoned for 52 days in 2019 but was only released after paying a bribe of TL 80,000.
Doğan also submitted a list of 53 judges and prosecutors who he said were involved in bribery. The list includes people from different judicial districts in İstanbul.
Despite these serious allegations and the publication of the list, no formal investigation has been launched, Birgün reports.
E.K., the presiding judge of the 18th High Criminal Court of Bakırköy, and two other judges on the panel, M.D. and B.A.U., withdrew from the case. The new panel of judges has not yet closed the case despite the passage of almost five years.
Doğan did not respond to Birgün’s request for comment.
Turkey has seen an erosion in the rule of law, especially after a failed coup in July 2016, when more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors were removed under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is accused of replacing the purged judiciary members with young and inexperienced judges and prosecutors who have close links to the AKP.
In a development that confirmed the erosion of the Turkish judiciary, Turkey was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in late October, dropping one rank in comparison to last year.