İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor İsmail Uçar has come forward with a letter sent to the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) exposing corruption in the country’s judicial system, the Birgün daily reported on Friday.
In a letter sent to the office of the HSK’s secretary-general on Oct. 6, Uçar detailed allegations of bribery, nepotism and other irregularities within the judicial system. The letter also included accusations against Bekir Altun, president of the İstanbul Judicial Commission.
“Unfortunately, with great regret, we have observed that … some members of the judiciary have begun to justify all sorts of dirty work as if they were owed something by the state,” Uçar said, emphasizing the need for applying “chemotherapy,” if necessary, to eradicate the “cancerous cells” within the judiciary.
He alleged that decisions were made by İstanbul’s criminal courts of peace at the Anadolu Courthouse to block access to internet content and to release suspects in exchange for money.
Uçar gave an example of an illegal betting operation based in İstanbul, where 22 suspects were arrested on June 13, 2023. He stated that the organization’s leader, Sebahattin Şahin, and its executive, Ertuğrul Mertoğlu, were released by the Anadolu 4th Criminal Court of Peace just two months after their arrest.
According to Uçar, Altun attempted to influence the judge for an acquittal in a case involving Necat Gülseven, a partner of businessman Metin Güneş, leading to a judge’s recusal and a subsequent acquittal. The prosecutor said it was known that judges who didn’t follow Altun’s directives faced reassignment and that a senior colleague’s intervention allowed a judge who refused to follow his directive in this case to remain in place.
Uçar called on the HSK to take necessary action for the dismantling of such entities, whether organized or not, that “condone such a heinous evil as drugs, release organization leaders without even putting them on trial, create an empire of fear and subject our colleagues to mobbing and attempt to influence trials.”
One of the prosecutors involved in closing corruption investigations in late 2013, Uçar was initially appointed as the deputy chief public prosecutor in İstanbul. Later, in 2017, he appeared to be rewarded by his appointment as İstanbul chief public prosecutor.
The December 17-25 bribery and corruption investigations shook the country back in 2013. The probe implicated, among others, the family members of four cabinet ministers as well as the children of then-prime minister and current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
As part of the first investigation, the sons of three then-ministers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were detained on Dec. 17, 2013.
A week later another investigation reached Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan.
The Dec. 17-25 investigations 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, inspired by the views of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, within the police department with the aim of overthrowing his government.
Since then, hundreds of police officers and members of the judiciary have been detained and some arrested for alleged illegal activity in the course of the corruption investigations.
The Turkish government also accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it as a terrorist organization. Gülen and his movement strongly deny any involvement in the failed putsch and any terrorist activity.