Turkey’s Parliament will convene on Tuesday to vote on whether to refer four former ministers who were implicated in a massive corruption scandal that became public on 17th December, 2013, to the Constitutional Court for trial.
Former interior minister Muammer Guler, ex-environment minister Erdogan Bayraktar, ex-economy minister Zafer Caglayan and ex-EU affairs minister Egemen Bagis were accused of bribery and influence-peddling.
According to rumour, the possibility of preventing AK Party deputies from running as candidates in the approaching general elections if they vote for the referral of the ex-ministers was discussed during the meeting.
A parliamentary corruption commission which was established last summer to investigate corruption accusations recently concluded that there was insufficient evidence showing that the former ministers were involved in bribery, as was claimed, so there was no need to send them to court for trial, triggering an avalanche of criticism from opposition parties and the public.
Speaking to Turkish daily ‘Zaman’ about the matter, Erdal Aksünger, a Republican People’s Party (CHP) member of the corruption commission, accused the government of trying to shunt the discussions about the potential trial of the former ministers off the agenda as quickly as possible.
“By doing so, they [AK Party] want to make the people forget the incident before the general elections [scheduled for June 7]. Also, they are prepared to make the vote concerning the ex-ministers secret. As you know, they previously limited and censored the broadcasting hours of Parliament TV. [Resorting to] such an option will not be a surprise to us,” Aksünger said, expressing his concern.
‘Zaman’ said that 15 deputies from the AK Party, including some key members, paid a visit to Erdoğan last week and that a team is to be formed to convince 73 deputies who are in their third term and will be ineligible for re-election not to send the ex-ministers to the Constitutional Court for trial.
If 53 deputies from the AK Party vote for the trial of the four former ministers, along with the opposition deputies in Parliament, then the ex-ministers will be tried by the country’s top court.