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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09ANKARA721
2009-05-20 11:56:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Ankara
Cable title:  

COURT RULES PRESIDENT GUL SHOULD BE TRIED FOR FRAUD

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  PREL  OSCE  TU 
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VZCZCXRO8936
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHAK #0721/01 1401156
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201156Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9697
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU//TCH//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/TSR ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 000721 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR EUR/SE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/20/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL OSCE TU
SUBJECT: COURT RULES PRESIDENT GUL SHOULD BE TRIED FOR FRAUD

REF: ANKARA 550

Classified By: POL Counselor Daniel O'Grady for reasons 1.4(b,d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 000721

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR EUR/SE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/20/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL OSCE TU
SUBJECT: COURT RULES PRESIDENT GUL SHOULD BE TRIED FOR FRAUD

REF: ANKARA 550

Classified By: POL Counselor Daniel O'Grady for reasons 1.4(b,d)


1. (C) Summary: An Ankara court ruled May 18 that President
Gul should stand trial for fraud for his alleged involvement
in the 1990's case which involved misappropriation of state
funds by officials of the now-closed Welfare Party (Refah
Partisi or RP), of which Gul was once Deputy Chairman.
Although several RP officials, including its chairman
Necmettin Erbakan, were convicted in that underlying case,
the Ankara Prosecutor earlier dismissed legal proceedings
against Gul. The court's ruling to reopen proceedings
against Gul drew a sharp rebuke from the President's office,
which questioned the motive of the Sincan court and declared
that a sitting President may not be tried for anything other
than the charge of treason. Re-opening the closed case
against the sitting President suggests political bias by the
court, and casts a further shadow on the objectivity of a
judiciary already marred by allegations of bias in the AKP
closure and Eregenekon cases. End summary.


2. (SBU) The Sincan Heavy Penal Court of the greater Ankara
municipality ruled May 18 that President Gul should stand
trial for fraud related to one million Turkish Lira (about
$700,000) of missing funds. The case dates back to the late
1990s, when the RP, a predecessor of the ruling Justice and
Development Party (AKP), was accused of misappropriating
funds from the Treasury. At the time, Gul was Deputy
Chairman of the RP. In the underlying case, the court found
former PM and RP founder Necmettin Erbakan, as well as
several executives of the RP, guilty of falsifying party
records and hiding millions of dollars in cash reserves that
the Constitutional Court had ordered to be frozen in
conjunction with the RP closure case. The Ankara Public
Prosecutor's Office, however, had earlier dismissed the legal
proceedings against Gul.


3. (SBU) The presidential press center denounced the court
ruling. "The presidents can't be judged for any reason other
than treason in accordance with the Constitution," Gul's
office said in a written statement. The statement continued,
"The efforts in some circles to attempt to present our
president as a suspect, although he is not charged, does not
demonstrate good will." Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek
told reporters following a May 18 cabinet meeting that, "It
is unthinkable that presidents are not protected by immunity
when deputies are. Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan told
reporters, "Presidents can solely be put on trial for
treason, and this requires very rigid conditions."


4. (SBU) Commentary on the issue has been split. Ilhan
Selcuk wrote in leftist-nationalistt "Cumhuriyet" that "It is
not possible to claim President Gul is guilty at this point,
but he is certainly a suspect. He should be tried so that
the judicial process can make the verdict. Islamist-leaning
"Yeni Safak" speculated that that former chief prosecutor
Sabih Kanadoglu (who had initiated the AKP closure case) had
influenced the Sincan court. ("Cumhuriyet" reported that
Kanadoglu is arguing that the Constitution does not
specifically offer immunity to a sitting president.) Liberal
"Taraf" opined that the Sincan court was trying to punish Gul
for his peaceful initiatives for solving the Kurdish issue.


5. (C) Comment: Political motives are clearly behind the
charges against Gul. AKP members are familiar targets for
Turkey's secular-minded prosecutors. In addition, the
Ergenekon case (REFTEL) casts a conspiratorial shadow over
all high-profile legal proceedings of the day. Revisiting a
previously dismissed case is especially questionable. As a
political ploy, the case is likely an attempted
counter-attack by the secular elite against those they see as
directing the Ergenekon investigation. The immediate legal
effect will be negligible: the extent of Gul's immunity
seems secure while he is in office. But as a warning, these
charges are likely to underscore for the AKP that their
political opposition remains formidable and resolute. In
addition, calling into question the legal status of the
president may compel AKP to clarify in the constitution the
parameters of presidential immunity, adding yet another

ANKARA 00000721 002 OF 002


potential reason for AKP to call for the expansive amending
of the constitution that the secularists would prefer to
avoid.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turk ey

JEFFREY