Italian judge refuses to drop money-laundering investigation into Erdoğan’s son

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Turkey prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's sun Bilal Erdogan casts his vote in a presidential election at a polling station in Istanbul on August 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO

A Bologna judge has denied a request from prosecutors to terminate a money laundering investigation into Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal, with the prosecutors claiming they have found no evidence of wrongdoing.

A preliminary investigations judge, according to the ANSA news agency, refused to abort the investigation that was initiated in February, reportedly as a result of a complaint by Hakan Uzan, brother of former Young Party president and controversial business tycoon Cem Uzan, a political opponent of Erdoğan in Turkey. Hakan Uzan currently lives in France.

The investigation in Italy had led President Erdoğan to condemn Italy on Aug. 3 as he urged the Italian judges investigating his son to pursue the Italian mafia instead. Erdoğan even said his son would be arrested if he went back to Italy, arguing that he is a very bright Ph.D. candidate who was doing his studies at The Johns Hopkins University’s Bologna campus.

Bilal Erdoğan had moved to Italy in October 2015 to finish his doctorate but left Bologna, reportedly due to security concerns.

The Bologna-based ll Resto del Carlino had claimed that Bilal Erdoğan sent farewell messages to his friends in Bologna, telling them that he had decided to return to İstanbul. “Our security in Bologna has been a sensitive issue both for the Italian and the Turkish governments,” he reportedly said in the message. Erdoğan’s son also promised to go back to Bologna in a more “peaceful” environment, the daily claimed.

While President Erdoğan slammed the Italian judiciary for launching an investigation into his son, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi responded to him on Twitter, saying that in Italy judges give their verdicts based on the constitution, not according to what the Turkish president wants, calling this the rule of law.

The Italian judiciary accuses Bilal Erdoğan of violating both European and Italian financial laws by bringing with him large amounts of cash to launder in Italy.

Bilal Erdoğan was one of the prime suspects in Turkey’s largest corruption case, which came to public attention on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013. The twin investigations, which implicated the Erdoğan family as well, were covered up as the prosecutors and police officers who were in charge of the investigations were subsequently dismissed and jailed.

Erdoğan’s son also reportedly asked for security guards from the Italian government when he moved to Italy after the June 2015 elections in which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in Parliament. In the repeat elections of November 2015, the AKP regained a majority and Bilal Erdoğan returned to Turkey amid legal troubles in Italy.

 

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