Italy drops money laundering probe into Erdoğan’s son

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and his son Bilal Erdoğan

An Italian judge dropped a money laundering investigation into President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal when the complainant, Turkish businessman Hakan Uzan, failed to appear in court to testify.

Italian news agency Ansa reported on Tuesday that a prosecutor asked Uzan, who lives in France, to testify in the ongoing investigation, but when Uzan failed to appear in court, the preliminary investigations judge approved a request to shelve the probe.

On Dec. 10, a Bologna judge had denied a request from prosecutors to terminate a money laundering investigation into Erdoğan’s son, with the prosecutors claiming they had found no evidence of wrongdoing.

A preliminary investigations judge, according to ANSA, had refused to abort the investigation that was initiated in February as a result of a complaint by Uzan.

The complainant is the brother of former Young Party (GP) president and controversial business tycoon Cem Uzan, a political opponent of Erdoğan in Turkey.

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 accused 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.

Bilal Erdoğan refused to testify in Turkey when a massive corruption investigation broke in December 2013. He only testified in February 2014 after his father, then prime minister Erdoğan, removed the initial prosecutor.

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