ANKARA – Hürriyet
Former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, whose house arrest was lifted Monday, is now trying to avoid paying a crippling fine.
The Islamist leader was found guilty of complicity in the disappearance of the Treasury funds given to the Welfare Party, or RP, after the Constitutional Court shut down the party. After years of trials, on Dec. 2, 2003 a court sentenced him to two years and four months in prison. The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, then amended the criminal law to allow Erbakan to serve his punishment under house arrest rather than in jail.
Erbakan was serving his sentence at his summer home in the Altınoluk region on the coast of the Marmara Sea when President Abdullah Gül pardoned him.
Both Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were senior figures in the RP when it was closed and Gül himself was among the party executives investigated for the missing funds.
In a statement the president released yesterday, Gül said some media reports about Erbakan's pardon were far from well intentioned, noting that all such cases were reviewed by the prosecutor's office before they were submitted to president's assessment. �There is no double standards,� the statement said, adding that Gül was not a suspect in the trial where Erbakan was prosecuted. It said charges against the president were dropped before he was elected the president because he had no links to the financial affairs of the party.
The pardon does not, however, cover the fine imposed on Erbakan and the RP's chief accountant, Rıza Ulucak, for the missing Treasury funds.
Erbakan was required to pay YTL 2.6 million in fines, which now stands at YTL 12 million after interest and other expenses.
The Finance Ministry had seized three homes, including a summerhouse of Erbakan and confiscated part of his wages in an effort to retrieve the lost money.
Erbakan's lawyer, Yaşar Gürkan, has now filed an appeal against the seizures, noting that the confiscation of part of the salary was annulled three days after the decision was taken.
While the assets that Erbakan declared in 1995 make up a long list worth many millions of lira, his lawyer said the Finance Ministry had begun an inquiry into the matter and had discovered that Erbakan had only YTL 60,000 in his bank account rather than the huge wealth he was estimated to have, which the media reported included 148 kilograms of gold.
�We have lodged an appeal. The trial will begin in September,� he said.