ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
The Constitutional Court called for the executives of the opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, to be probed for financial irregularities in the accounts of the party, the third political party in Parliament to face criminal charges.
The top court announced that there were financial irregularities in the 1998, 2004, 2005 and 2006 accounts of the party, asking the Ankara Prosecutor's Office to launch criminal inquiries into the conduct of the top executives of the party.
The court also asked the Treasury to withdraw around YTL 900,000 from party coffers, noting that there were irregular payments amounting to that amount over the years.
The CHP's Parliamentary group deputy leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, said they had to respect the decision of the top court, adding that they would be addressing the deficiencies.
He also said that if any charges were laid against any official, party lawyers would defend them.
CHP deputy leader, Cevdet Selvi, dismissed claims of irregularities, claiming that the matter was part of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's efforts to attack the CHP's credibility as local elections approached.
Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç, when asked about the court's decision, said the irregularities found would not result in the closure of the party.
The irregularities found in the CHP's accounts did not cover accusations over the CHP transferring funds worth a total of $4.1 million to Kanaltürk television. A report prepared by the Revenue Office was forwarded to the Supreme Court of Appeals Prosecutor's Office and the Constitutional Court last year. The prosecutor's office forwarded the case to the Constitutional Court.
Kanaltürk's owner, Tuncay Özkan, had first argued the channel was established with $17 million, later amending his statement by saying that only $3 million of it was paid capital. Özkan, known as a strong Justice and Development Party, or AKP, critic, was known for his statement, �My channel is at the command of the CHP,� at the huge anti-government rallies around the nation last year.
When the matter first made the headlines, the CHP's deputy leader, Mustafa Özyürek, said the transfer was documented and the money paid was part of an advertising agreement signed with the channel.
�Kanaltürk was given the funds in exchange for services to be provided. Some of the services have already been provided. The rest was given for a CHP documentary and party advertisements during the election campaign,� he had argued.
Out of the four parties present in Parliament, the ruling AKP and the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, are facing closure over anti-secularism and separatism charges respectively.