Letters   |   Turkey

Turkey: Reporter Faces 12 Years in Prison for Article on Alleged Judicial Improprieties

First, let us take another look at the chronology of this terrifying event:

Interior Minister Saadettin Tantan tells Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk that Prosecutor Oktar Cakir is "involved in malfeasance."

The Justice Minister then conveys this information to the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, which will elect the new chief prosecutor of the State Security Court.

The council, however, ignores the information and elects Cakir as the chief prosecutor.

In other words, a majority of this council, which is comprised of the most senior prosecutors and judges in Turkey, appoints someone to one of the highest positions in the Turkish legal system knowing full well that he was involved in malfeasance. If this is the norm of the justice industry, does this mean that more than half of the judges and prosecutors in this country are...what? What do you call people who elect a prosecutor known to be involved in malfeasance as chief prosecutor? My Turkish is not good enough to find the right adjective.

The most terrifying aspect of all this is that Cakir would have become the chief prosecutor if not for a traffic accident. He would have been working for one of the most important courts of Turkey even though he was known to lack the necessary moral foundation for the job. [Editor's Note: Shortly after Cakir was elected chief prosecutor, he was involved in a traffic accident on May 2 while riding in a car driven by a wanted criminal. The Supreme Council then sacked him and he retired rather than take a minor job in the provinces.]

And also:

Those who voted for Prosecutor Cakir did not resign and were not fired even though they knew he lacked the necessary moral foundation for this job. I glanced at the major newspapers today, and despite the fact that the traffic accident happened hardly a week ago, there was not a word about it except in a column by Fatih Altayli in the newspaper Hürriyet. Has this incident been forgotten? Has the case been closed? Isn't anyone asking questions?

Such as:

  • Who are the other prosecutors and judges who collaborated with Cakir in the malfeasance he is accused of? What does the minister of justice plan to do about them?

  • What exactly were Cakir's misdeeds? When did they happen? Over how many years?

  • How valid are the past cases that Cakir prosecuted? When he did not pursue charges, were the people he let off really innocent and were those he successfully prosecuted really guilty? How valid were the indictments prepared in his office? Is anyone—just a single solitary person—considering investigating these old cases at all?

  • What is the government planning to do about the Mafia of prosecutors and judges at the highest levels of the judiciary who subvert justice in exchange for money?
    And the last question bothering me involves my own profession:

    Why didn't Interior Minister Tantan leak the information about Cakir to the press at the same time he informed the justice minister? This would have been the best way to prevent his election as chief prosecutor before the traffic accident that exposed him. Is it because there was not a single journalist or newspaper he could trust?

    Maybe.

    We journalists criticize everyone, but the number of us involved in malfeasance is not less than in any other profession.

    END
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