In a shocking revelation, the Chief Public Prosecutor of Istanbul’s Anatolian District, İsmail Uçar, has detailed severe allegations of corruption and abuse within Turkey’s second-largest judicial district. These claims were made in a letter sent by Uçar to the Council of Judges and Prosecutors, which was later reported by Turkish media.
Background on Key Figures
İsmail Uçar: Currently serving as the Chief Public Prosecutor of Istanbul Anatolian District. In 2013, he was an ordinary prosecutor. Following the 17-25 December corruption graft, the government intervened to replace the original prosecutors with Uçar. He controversially issued non-prosecution decisions for all suspects, including sons of then-Prime Minister Erdogan, Interior Minister Muammer Guler, and three other cabinet ministers despite compelling evidence.
Ismail Ucar – Bekir Altun
Bekir Altun: The current president of the judicial commission of Istanbul Anatolian District. After the 2013 graft investigations, he notably released suspects while arresting the police officers involved in the investigations.
Both Uçar and Altun were subsequently promoted in return for closing corruption graft involving senior government figure and their relatives.
Allegations Detailed in the Letter
Uçar’s letter is a scathing indictment of the judiciary, particularly highlighting the role of Bekir Altun in alleged misconduct. He accuses Altun of being at the forefront of various corrupt activities, including bribery, extortion, curtailing press freedom, and intimidating fellow judges and prosecutors.
Further, Uçar lambasts unspecified “structures” within the judiciary. He states that these bodies “tolerate drugs, (trafficking) release gang leaders without trial, and intimidate colleagues.” The pervasive influence of these entities, Uçar suggests, has deeply corrupted the judiciary, and also it’s causing the judiciary to rot.
Commenting on the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt, Uçar expressed that many in the judiciary now feel they have carte blanche to engage in illicit activities. He stresses the need for a rigorous purge, likening the current state of the judiciary to a patient in need of surgery or chemotherapy.
Adding to the allegations of corruption, Uçar pointed out a concerning trend of magistrate judges accepting bribes for issuing content removal and URL-blocking decisions. This claim resonates with a recent report by the Freedom of Expression Association (İFÖD) which highlights a significant number of URLs facing access restrictions in Turkey.
The İFÖD’s 2022 Blocked Web report, prepared by Prof. Dr. Yaman Akdeniz and Researcher Ozan Güven from Istanbul Bilgi University’s Faculty of Law, provided insights into the scale of these restrictions. Since 2006, a staggering 616,239 access blocking decisions have been issued, resulting in 712,558 addresses being inaccessible.
Further Allegations against Altun
Uçar has also accused Altun of manipulating the judiciary to facilitate the release and acquittal of suspects arrested for significant drug possession (citing an instance of 125 kg) or involvement in extortion and usurpation. Uçar claims Altun has strategically replaced judges and courts, promoting those who cooperate with him and demoting or sidelining those who resist.
Not an isolated case
This isn’t the first time such serious allegations have been levied against key figures in Turkey’s judiciary. In Izmir, the government’s once-praised “golden boy” prosecutor, Okan Bato, has been implicated in an array of corrupt practices. From prosecuting US pastor Andrew Brunson on questionable charges to allegedly extorting vast sums of money from businessmen under threats of arrest, Bato’s deeds have been brought to the forefront. Recent reports suggest that his wealth increased astronomically during his tenure in Izmir, he is even implicated in the murder of a member of extortion scheme that he allegedly run.
Meanwhile, in Ankara, the city’s former chief prosecutor, Yüksel Kocaman, now a judge at the Supreme Court of Appeals, has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Accusations range from obstructing a murder investigation in favour of a wealthy businessman to accepting luxury gifts from a notorious mafia boss in exchange for judicial favors. These revelations about Kocaman, combined with his controversial decisions during his term as Ankara’s Chief Public Prosecutor, have further eroded public trust in the country’s judiciary.
These serious allegations, which have been made in succession from Istanbul to Izmir and Ankara, Turkey’s three largest cities, are a strong indication that the judiciary is increasingly losing its integrity and decency.
Categories: Turkey Human Rights Blog