ANKARA: Turkey’s notorious mafia boss Alaattin Cakici, who was recently released from jail under an amnesty law pushed through by the government and its coalition partner MHP, has publicly threatened the country’s opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, telling him to “watch his step.”
The threat has yet to be condemned by any government figure, while opposition counterparts, including Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, demand an end to the silence surrounding threats and insults.
“To threaten the head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) is to threaten millions, to threaten the republic. Everybody should know their limits,” Ozgur Ozel, CHP group deputy chair, tweeted.
In June, a deputy from the MHP threw a punch at Ozel during a parliamentary session as tensions ran high over the removal of an opposition MP’s parliamentary status.
Opposition district mayors and CHP Istanbul Provincial Chair Canan Kaftancioglu released a joint press statement on Nov. 18, saying: “We aren’t afraid of you or of your shadow. We will follow this case which will show the sincerity of the government.”
Cakici was convicted of instigating the killing of his ex-wife — the daughter of another well-known Turkish criminal — in 1995. He is politically affiliated with the nationalistic MHP.
On Tuesday, Cakici told Kilicdaroglu: “You and your party’s executives are saying that there is no democracy in Turkey and talking against the president. If there had been a dictatorial regime in our country, you would have all been impaled.”
The threat follows Kilicdaroglu’s criticism of the government on Nov. 17 over its amnesty law.
“Will you stop releasing mafia leaders, drug traffickers and jailing thought criminals?” the opposition leader asked during his parliamentary speech.
Journalists and political prisoners were excluded from the controversial amnesty law adopted in April.
CHP lawmaker Alpay Antmen said the mafia boss’ challenge to the head of the main opposition party shows “the rule of law has been destroyed in Turkey.”
Antmen told Arab News: “Cakici doesn’t proceed by himself; he gets the support from higher levels; he has some partners in crime who encourage him. He is only the spokesperson for a widespread gang.”
More than 36,000 people have been investigated in the past year for “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to official figures.
“I am wondering whether those who arrest people just because they criticized Erdogan will do the same for that mafia boss? Those who threatened Kilicdaroglu also threatened millions of the party’s supporters,” Antmen said.
Meanwhile, a court ruling in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir added to Turkey’s already weak record on accountability.
A court acquitted a suspected police officer over the killing of Kemal Kurkut, a 23-year-old Kurdish man who was trying to attend Newroz celebrations in 2017.
Kurkut, who was shot by a police officer, was suspected of being a suicide bomber and carrying explosives. However, he was not wearing a shirt at the time.
Authorities opened a criminal complaint against 72 other police officers in the case, which remains unresolved after three years. However, a local journalist who recorded the moment of the killing faces up to 20 years in jail for “making terrorist propaganda.”
Sidar Avsar, a lawyer at the Diyarbakir Bar Association who has followed the case, said the latest ruling showed excessive force against civilians could be carried out with impunity.
He warned that this case is unlikely to be the last.
“Similar cases involving citizens in Turkey are undermining public trust in the security forces and the state in general. It weakens people’s perception of justice in the country,” he said.