Duvar English

Former ministers involved in a corruption scandal should be tried, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said, adding that the issue created a rift between him and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“If there are certain allegations, public conscience would be relieved when they are acquitted,” Davutoğlu said on Feb. 4, adding that the most suitable method is for the former ministers to be tried in the Constitutional Court, which acts as the Grand Chamber when high-level state officials are being tried.

“I thought that the most appropriate way would be to be acquitted in the Grand Chamber. I still think that way. We had a difference in opinion [with Erdoğan] here,” he also said.

The Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption investigations targeted figures close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan.

Former ministers Erdoğan Bayraktar, Egemen Bağış, Muammer Güler and Zafer Çağlayan resigned from the Cabinet after the graft operation highlighted their relations with Reza Zarrab – a shady Turkish-Iranian businessman who allegedly paid the ministers a number of bribes over several years.

The probe broke the AKP’s once-friendly ties to the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, as prosecutors purportedly close to the movement launched the wide-ranging probes.

Davutoğlu assumed the role of an opposition leader last year when he resigned from the AKP to found the Future Party.