Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chairman Nurettin Canikli, a former minister, has filed a lawsuit against main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu over recent claims that the former squandered the funds of companies seized by the government after a 2016 coup attempt, local media reported on Tuesday.
Canikli accuses Kılıçdaroğlu of “insulting” and “slandering” him in recent remarks during a CHP group meeting on June 28 and an interview he gave to the Birgün daily on June 30, seeking TL 750,000 ($42,650) in damages.
In the same criminal complaint Canikli filed against the CHP leader with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, he also requested that an investigation and a public case be launched into Kılıçdaroğlu.
Referring to the immunity from prosecution granted to trustees who were appointed to replace the boards of directors of 682 companies that were seized by the AKP over their alleged links to the Gülen movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Kılıçdaroğlu had previously said that Canikli was “at the center” of the development.
“[This immunity decision says] ‘Steal, engage in injustice and you’ll have no responsibility.’ … If a person becomes rich after getting into politics, it means that person is scoring something. … Canikli isn’t an innocent person, it appears.” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
The CHP leader’s remarks came after journalist Metin Cihan had revealed on social media how Canikli squandered the funds of companies transferred to Turkey’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) after the coup attempt by appointing his driver, one of his advisors and a friend of his nephew to them, using documents to support his claims.
Turkey, which in 2016 had already granted officials immunity from prosecution for their actions taken to suppress the coup, extended that immunity to the trustees appointed to the 682 companies seized during the state of emergency with a decree issued in late May.
The law came after CHP lawmaker Çetin Arık revealed that Ertunç Laçinel, a trustee who was appointed to run Erciyes Anadolu Holding — previously called Boydak Holding — disappeared with 20 million euros.
The ruling AKP and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), previously rejected a motion to investigate allegations against the companies seized after the 2016 coup attempt and are currently being run by trustees.
With the law, board members and executives appointed to the seized companies, mostly members of the ruling party, former lawmakers or bureaucrats close to the government, will be exempt from liability for corruption and misconduct even if cases are concluded in favor of former owners who claim that their companies suffered losses while they were managed by the TMSF.
Ankara deems the faith-based movement inspired by Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen a terrorist organization and accuses Gülen as well as members of his movement of masterminding the coup attempt. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared a state of emergency on July 20, 2016, days after a coup attempt against his government. More than 130,000 civil servants, including academics, teachers, diplomats and police officers were dismissed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws issued by the AKP government during the two-year state of emergency, which ended on July 17, 2018.
Most dismissed civil servants are accused of links to the Gülen movement, but there were many others who belonged to other opposition groups.
The government also seized schools, universities, media outlets, companies and buildings and the assets of individuals, corporations and organizations that were believed to have ties to the Gülen movement.