ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

President Abdullah Gül announced yesterday that he had pardoned Necmettin Erbakan, former prime minister and ex-leader of Welfare Party, or RP.
Erbakan was under house arrest after having been found guilty of embezzlement of party funds in the �lost trillion� case. Gül lifted the remaining period of house arrest under Article 104 of the Constitution, according to which the president can shorten or lift entirely sanctions against chronically ill persons. The president's office said Erbakan's chronic illness had been verified by medical opinion.
Erbakan, who is 82, started serving his sentence in May this year at his private house, as the Penal Code allows persons over 75 to do if their sentence is less than three years. Erbakan sentence was supposed to end Sept. 23, 2010.
The main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, immediately reacted to the decision. Spokesman Mustafa Özyürek denied that Erbakan had health problems. �Gül was tried in the same case as Erbakan. It is as if he pardoned himself,� Özyürek said. Erkaban's RP was shut down in 1998 for becoming a focal point of anti-secular activity.