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Davutoğlu says Erdoğan prevented trial of ministers involved in 2013 corruption probe

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Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prevented the trial of several ministers from his Justice and Development Party (AKP) on allegations of corruption, the investigation into which came to public attention on Dec. 17, 2013, the T24 news website reported.

Davutoğlu, who last summer parted ways with the AKP and announced the establishment of his Future Party last month, was responding to criticism suggesting that he remained silent in the face of anti-democratic practices engaged in by the AKP while he was still a member.

His remarks came during an exclusive interview with T24’s Murat Sabuncu.

“I wanted to take Erdoğan to Gezi, but he refused. He prevented a Supreme Court trial of the ministers implicated in the Dec. 17 probe,” said Davutoğlu.

Gezi refers to the mass anti-government protests that began in the summer of 2013 in İstanbul against government plans to demolish Gezi Park in İstanbul’s central Taksim area.

As part of the Dec. 17 investigation into bribery and corruption, the sons of three then-ministers from the AKP were detained on Dec. 17, 2013.

A week later another investigation reached then-Prime Minister Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan.

The Dec. 17 investigation led to the resignation of four Cabinet ministers, to which Erdoğan responded by claiming that the corruption scandal was fabricated by sympathizers of the Gülen movement within the police department with the aim of overthrowing his government.

The ministers did not appear in court to face the corruption allegations. To the contrary, the judges, prosecutors and police officers who took part in the corruption investigation were first removed from their jobs and then arrested on coup charges.

Davutoğlu said he thought at the time that the ministers should be tried at the Supreme Court and acquitted of the corruption charges, adding that he met with three of the ministers and they, after a heated debate, agreed that the ministers would hold a news conference the next day and would say they had voluntarily agreed to be tried at the Supreme Court.

“No statement was made by the ministers the next day. I asked what had happened and learned that the ministers met with Erdoğan and that he dissuaded them from making such a statement,” said Davutoğlu.

The former prime minister also said Erdoğan accused him of defending terrorists because Davutoğlu spoke in favor of the academics who signed a peace declaration in early 2016 and then were prosecuted for signing it.

Calling themselves “Academics for Peace,” the 1,128 initial signatories of the letter published in January 2016 included Turkish scholars and prominent overseas academics such as American linguist Noam Chomsky.

They said Turkey was condemning residents of towns in the Southeast to hunger through the use of curfews and also called for a solution to the conflict that included talks with the Kurdish political movement.

The Turkish government accused the academics of spreading terrorist propaganda. Many of them were removed from their posts, prosecuted and subsequently jailed.

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