An investigation was launched into a former deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over the release of Iranian drug lord Naji Sharifi Zindashti from jail in Turkey.
Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Investigation Bureau launched the probe into Burhan Kuzu, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s advisor, on Feb. 14, following reports that he pressured the judiciary in order for Zindashti to be released.
The investigation into Kuzu was launched after the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) sent a document regarding the allegations of pressure to Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Zindashti was first arrested in 2007 in Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece in possession of 75 kilograms of heroin and later convicted. He was released in August 2010.
Zindashti was held again in April 2018 on suspicion of several murders, instigating murder and membership of the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, which is officially called the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
He was released six months later, with the court saying that there is no evidence tying him to murders.
A prosecutor’s office objected to Zindashti’s release and an arrest warrant was issued, but the drug lord was gone by then.
Recent reports showed that Kuzu called prosecutors and judges and told them that Zindashti’s release would be “more beneficial” for Turkish-Iranian relations.
“Burhan Kuzu called me and said that the dead in the murder case are foreigners and the crime was committed in a foreign country, thus Turkish laws can’t be applied. He told me that trying Zindashti without arrest would be beneficial in terms of Turkey’s relations with Iran,” a judge, identified only as Özcan G., said, Habertürk reported.
Kuzu denied the allegations against him in tweets earlier this week.
“As a professor of constitutional law, I have always defended judicial independence. I have not pressured our judicial members,” Kuzu said.