ISTANBUL: The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Burhan Kuzu, a former parliamentarian from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), on Friday, over interference in the judicial process to secure the release of Iranian drug lord Naci Zindashti.
Kuzu, the former chair of Turkey’s parliamentary constitutional committee, is a highly trusted adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on legal issues.
Zindashti was arrested in Istanbul in 2007 with 75 kilos of heroin by Turkish police, along with nine other gang members.
He was released by a court order in Istanbul in October 2018, after allegedly accepting an offer to turn witness for the prosecution.
Hours after his release, a fresh arrest warrant was issued, but he had already vanished, believed to have fled the country.
The judge who issued the release claimed he was pressured by Kuzu, who asserted Zindashti’s incarceration was a “highly sensitive issue for the government,” adding he had received repeated pressure from Kuzu to grant the release.
Ozgur Ozel, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said Kuzu had been caught red-handed.
“Does the president take his advice about ‘how to put pressure on the courts?’ I’m wondering why Kuzu gets paid,” he said.
Iranian drug lord Naci Zindashti was released by a court order in Istanbul. The judge who issued the release claimed he was pressured by Burhan Kuzu, a former AKP parliamentarian.
Photos of Kuzu and a member of the AKP’s women’s branch having dinner with Zindashti made the front pages in the Turkish press this week.
Even the pro-government Haber Turk ran the story about Kuzu and his connections to Zindashti, an unexpected development considering the widespread censorship of the country’s media.
Kuzu has denied all accusations, saying that the kingpin was introduced to him as a businessman seeking Turkish citizenship.
It is expected that he will be soon called to give testimony. “I will never abstain from giving my statement. There is rule of law in Turkey,” he tweeted.
Under the AKP, judicial independence in Turkey has been a hotly debated topic, with many rights groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International criticizing judges, saying that court rulings are heavily influenced by politicians.
During the 35th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN, in late January, Turkey was also criticized for its lack of judicial independence.
Hosni Mubarak: Egypt's warrior leader left his mark on Middle East history
While some may disagree with Mubarak’s legacy, his love for the country that he ruled for 30 years cannot be denied
The Egyptian leader died at a Cairo hospital at the age of 91 following health complications
Updated 10 min 24 sec ago
CAIRO: Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who passed away on Tuesday, ruled Egypt for 30 years. His rule began in a spirit of reform, with the release of political prisoners, support for the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of the press and a great deal of tolerance for his political opponents.
What is certain is that Mubarak’s role in the contemporary history of Egypt lies mainly in the military, as he belonged to a generation of warrior leaders. He was chosen by Gamal Abdel Nasser after the defeat of 1967, when he was a colonel, in order to rebuild the destroyed air force and prepare it for the victory of October 1973.
Some may disagree about Mubarak’s legacy, but it is unfair and transgressive to underestimate his value and role as a pilot.
I will not forget a comment, from a friend of mine from the Gulf, on the change he witnessed in the character of Egypt during the country’s rush to try Mubarak, and even execute him, after his fall. “The crisis that the Egyptian people suffer from is that, for the first time, they have lost their two most important characteristics: Patience and tolerance,” he told me.
I will also never forget the comment of an English friend during Mubarak’s trial, and his transfer from his home to the hospital, and from there to the courtroom cage that had been specially built for him, and then to prison. At that time, my friend wondered: “Didn’t Mubarak fight with the army one day?” I replied: “He even participated in three wars: The Suez war in 1956, the June 1967 war, and finally the October 1973 war, which was truly the most important victory in the history of the Arabs.” The man marveled at the insult Mubarak had to endure, saying: “Had he been in my country, the situation would have been different.”
For sure, Mubarak belonged to the generation of great warrior leaders, and that is an undeniable role that cannot be erased. At the same time, he was the ruler of Egypt for 30 years, and he is certainly subject to criticism, agreements and differences.
It is possible to explain a part of Mubarak’s behavior on the eve of his removal from power in order to preserve the blood of the Egyptians, and his decision to remain in the country, by saying that he was a leader who fought for the sake of Egypt. He did not kill tens of thousands or destroy cities to remain in power. He did not run away from the accusations leveled against him. Rather, he was tried in his country as a former president — acquitted in some cases and convicted in one — which gave a symbolic value to Egypt.
I still remember when he said to me with love and pride, after I interviewed him in 2009, how he preserved all of Egypt’s history and topography, and how he had visited all of its cities. He spoke with a real passion, one that explains why he did not leave the country when he abdicated.
The trials of the former president were not the most severe acts against him — that, I think, was the moment when his successors decided to withdraw all the medals and decorations he had received from him. I think that was the most difficult moment.
Many believe — and I am one of them — that a politician’s accountability for his errors should be in political action. I do not agree that accountability and justice for what are deemed political errors should be meted out through the use of vindictive punishments.
There are those who considered Mubarak’s reign as three decades of darkness and dictatorship, of looting, corruption and retreat, but it can be noticed that the number of these people has decreased significantly during recent years. On the other hand, there is a large sector that believes Mubarak made right and wrong decisions, and these people believe that, had Mubarak decided to withdraw from public life after the death of his grandson in 2009, and the surgery he underwent, he would have had a distinguished position in the hearts of the Egyptians. There is a third group that calls itself “Mubarak’s children.” These people find in their former president nothing but good, and their position was strengthened because of the way the Muslim Brotherhood ruled.
So, as we see, there are understandable difference in assessing Mubarak’s legacy. What was not understood, however, was the sweeping and overpowering attack not on Mubarak the president, but on Mubarak the fighter pilot — Mubarak the man.
God was merciful to him. He gave him the chance to see a large part of his rehabilitation after he suffered a lot during the long months following the fall of his regime in 2011. He was ultimately cleared of all charges but, more importantly, he began to talk again about the role of the air force. His memoirs, which he wrote when he was vice president, were published to show him as a military commander and a fighter pilot who fought for his country.
For many Egyptians, it seemed he had been helped through divine intervention. He entered intensive care about a month ago. A few days before his death, he received the news that his sons, Alaa and Gamal, had been acquitted in their final case. And one of the last things Mubarak said, according to his lawyer, Farid Al-Deeb, after he learned of the news of the innocence of his two sons, was: “Praise be to God. Our Lord has done justice to us after so many years.”
People will always remember that Mubarak gave a real margin to political forces and the media throughout his rule. This was one of the reasons he remained in power for so long, and was not the cause of his downfall.
Dr. Abdellatif El-Menawy is a critically acclaimed multimedia journalist, writer and columnist who has covered war zones and conflicts worldwide. Twitter: @ALMenawy