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Prosecutor faces trial in Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals over alleged illicit wealth increase

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Prosecutor Okan Bato is set to appear before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals later this month for allegedly amassing unexplained wealth, according to a report from Bold Medya news.

Bato had previously faced allegations of using his authority to extort money from affluent businessmen by threatening them with terrorism charges.

The Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) has approved Bato’s trial. The indictment submitted to the Karşıyaka High Criminal Court in April details that Bato’s assets increased significantly beyond his potential savings. From Jan. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2019, Bato and his family could have saved a maximum of TL 901,362 ($33,608). In contrast, his assets swelled by TL 9,040,580 ($337,162), with TL 8.1 million ($302,000) of that increase remaining unaccounted for.

In response, Bato denies any wrongdoing, attributing the increase in his assets to an inheritance from his in-laws. If convicted, he could face three to five years in prison and a fine ranging from TL 5 million to TL 10 million.

Due to his rank as a first-degree prosecutor, the trial will take place at the Supreme Court of Appeals. Proceedings are expected to begin by the end of September.

While serving as a prosecutor in İzmir, Bato led various investigations into the Gülen movement, a group Turkey accuses of orchestrating a failed 2016 coup. The movement denies any such involvement.

The alleged extortion scheme involving Bato is locally known as the “FETÖ market.” The term “FETÖ” is a derogatory label used in Turkey to describe the Gülen movement as a terrorist group. The scheme allegedly involves launching investigations into targeted businesspeople for supposed ties to the movement and then offering to drop the charges in exchange for a portion of their assets.

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