Turkish gov’t seeks Interpol red notices for three prominent corruption prosecutors

Turkish government has requested Interpol red notices on Monday for three prominent former prosecutors, who were responsible for the investigation launched against the earth chattering corruption scandal in Turkey at the end of 2013, as the trial of a Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who are main actor of the corruption scandal, to start in New York this week.

The Supreme Court has issued a request for red notices covering ex-prosecutors Zekeriya Öz, Celal Kara and Mehmet Yüzgeç, who are sought over the December 2013 corruption probe which invested Turkey’s biggest corruption scandal, over being behind a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The Dec. 17/25, 2013 corruption investigation had incriminated the cabinet ministers and Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family members. These three prosecutors had launched the graft investigation against senior government officials on Dec. 17-25, 2013.

Reza Zarrab and eight other people, including a former economy minister and three executives of Turkish state-owned Halkbank, have been charged with engaging in transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Iran’s government and Iranian entities from 2010 to 2015 in a scheme to evade US sanctions.

Accused of receiving tens of millions of dollars in bribes from the scheme is former economy minister Zafer Çağlayan, who the Turkish government says acted within Turkish and international law, but only Zarrab and Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla have been arrested by US authorities.

The government of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claims the case has been fabricated for political motives, with tensions between the two NATO ally countries affecting investor sentiment towards Turkey and contributing to the fall to record lows of the Turkish lira.

In the 2013 case, Turkish prosecutors accused Zarrab and high-ranking Turkish officials of involvement in facilitating Iranian money transfers via gold smuggling. After details of the Turkish prosecution were leaked, several prosecutors were removed from the case and police investigators were reassigned. Erdoğan described the case as an attempt by Fethullah Gülen’s supporters to undermine his government, and the investigation was later dropped.

The Turkish government’s blatant abuse of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to persecute, harass and intimidate critics and opponents is much worse than one can imagine, a research by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), an advocacy group that tracks rights violations in Turkey, has revealed.

“The dubious and false charges filed by Turkey through Interpol to hunt down legitimate critics of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have in some cases succeeded in extraditing people from abroad, subjecting returnees to torture and ill treatment in notorious Turkish prisons. In other cases, people were stranded in third countries while travelling and were forced to fight the forcible return as they remained in detention facilities,” said the SCF report.

Leading NGOs, such as Fair Trials in the UK, the New York-based Human Rights Watch, and Reporters Without Borders in Paris, have also urged the Interpol to weed out abuses.

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