One of the co-founders of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who parted ways with the party due to disagreements in 2007 has said corruption investigations in late 2013 revealed that the AKP was in fact involved in corruption, contrary to the AKP’s claim that the probes were aimed at overthrowing it.
Abdüllatif Şener, an AKP heavyweight from the party’s establishment in 2001 to 2007, spoke to the Sözcü daily about the alleged corruption the AKP was involved in. Şener is currently a lawmaker with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
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 AKP were detained on Dec. 17, 2013.
A week later another investigation reached Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan.
“When you take a look at Dec.17-25, you see so much was exposed, such as bribes accepted by the ministers, large safes in apartments, money counters in the apartments of the ministers’ sons and millions of dollars stashed in shoeboxes in the apartment of a general manager. Everything was very obvious. The people involved in all this weren’t punished,” Şener told the Sözcü daily in the interview published on Sunday.
He was referring to evidence of corruption collected by police and prosecutors as part of the investigations, which were not pursued further.
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 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.
Şener attracted the ire of AKP lawmakers in parliament last week when he said the AKP has turned into “an army of thieves” and accused it of abusing public resources for its own benefit.
Elaborating on his remarks during the interview, the lawmaker said there is a cycle of corruption in Turkey and that the AKP is illegally using public resources and the power of the state for its interests and those of its cronies. Şener said the Dec. 17-25 investigations were one of the periods when government corruption came to the fore.
“The amount of corruption has boomed during the time in power of this government. Documents exposing corruption have been revealed, but nobody has brought it before the judiciary. Public resources are plundered, but the plunderers are not put on trial. However, hundreds of politicians and journalists end up in court for presenting evidence of corruption or for even just talking about it,” said Şener.
When asked whether the AKP gave signs of turning into such a party at the time of its establishment, Şener, who served as deputy prime minister between 2002 and 2007, said the main goal of the party was to fight corruption, poverty and prohibitions.
“Now we are going through a period when corruption and prohibitions have boomed and poverty has deepened, unprecedented in the history of the Turkish Republic,” said Şener.