Judge who released graft suspects found to be Erdoğan supporter

A substitute judge who released a number of suspects in a major corruption and bribery investigation case, including Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, is reportedly a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Facebook profile of İslam Çiçek, who ruled to release five corruption suspects on Friday in his role as temporary judge, has raised suspicions over the judge’s objectivity. Çiçek “liked” a Facebook page created by a pro-Erdoğan group. The page is titled “Allah uzun ömür versin Uzun Adam” which translates as “May god grant you a long life, Tall Man” in English. The moniker “Uzun Adam” (Tall Man) is generally used for Erdoğan by his supporters.

Soon after Çiçek’s profile was highlighted in media reports, he completely shut down his Facebook account.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Faruk Bal displayed a photo of Çiçek’s Facebook profile during his speech in Parliament on Saturday. Bal stated that Çiçek’s ruling has been met with concerns and suspicion by the MHP and the Turkish people.

Bal stated: “İslam Çiçek, the judge who released sons of ministers and Zarrab, ‘liked’ something on his Facebook page. What did he like? Let me read it to you: ‘May God grant you a long life, Tall Man.’ This page he liked has a picture of Mr. Recep Tayyip. This is what the Turkish judiciary has come to.”  

Zarrab, a prime suspect in the high-profile Dec. 17 corruption probe, along with the sons of two ministers were among five released from prison pending trial on Friday by Judge Çiçek who was substituting for the main judge as he was on leave.

The court decided to release the suspects, including Barış Güler, the son of former Interior Minister Muammer Güler, and Kaan Çağlayan, son of former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan. The suspects have been banned from leaving the country and will have to check in with the police every week. With the release of the five suspects, none of the detainees in the investigation remain behind bars. Erdoğan has hailed the decision, saying, “Justice has been served.”

2 March 2014 

İSTANBUL, TODAY’S ZAMAN

 

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