Erdogan adviser in Iranian drug lord investigation

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 15 February 2020

Erdogan adviser in Iranian drug lord investigation

  • Kuzu has denied all accusations, saying that the kingpin was introduced to him as a businessman seeking Turkish citizenship

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.

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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.


UN warns of ‘bloodbath’ risk in northwest Syria

Updated 36 min 31 sec ago

UN warns of ‘bloodbath’ risk in northwest Syria

  • UN says it was trying to double aid deliveries across a border crossing from Turkey from 50 to 100 trucks a day.
  • Idlib has seen hundreds of thousands of people flee the violence

GENEVA: Fighting in northwest Syria is coming “dangerously close” to encampments with around a million displaced people, risking an imminent “bloodbath,” the UN said on Monday.
Mark Cutts, the UN’s Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, also said the UN was trying to double aid deliveries across a border crossing from Turkey from 50 to 100 trucks a day.
“The fighting is now coming dangerously close to an area where more than a million are living in tents and makeshift shelters,” Cutts told reporters in Geneva.
Cutts warned there was a risk of “a real bloodbath.”
A months-long offensive by Russia-backed Syrian troops against rebels backed by Turkey in northwest Idlib has seen hundreds of thousands of people flee the violence.
As a result of the escalation, Cutts said the UN was revising up its funding appeal for the crisis from $330 million to $500 million (462 million euros), adding that there was a shortfall of about $370 million.
The UN sent 1,200 aid trucks into the area in January and has dispatched 700 more so far in February, Cutts said.
“The reality is it is simply not enough. We’re barely able to meet the needs of the people for the most urgent food rations and tents and blankets and winter items,” he said.
Cutts also said aid workers were “overwhelmed,” some warehouses had been looted and the fighting had damaged some 77 hospitals and other medical facilities.