Duvar English

Daily Cumhuriyet has exposed the ties of Burhan Kuzu, a former deputy and one of the founding members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), with another mafia boss.

The daily reported that Güniz Akkuş — who recently threatened convicted mafia leader Sedat Peker in a video — had visited Kuzu in his office in the parliament when he was a lawmaker. Kuzu even had his driver pick up Akkuş with a state-issued car. Kuzu’s ties with Akkuş have been documented with photographs shared on the latter’s social media account.

Kuzu is already on trial on charges of interfering in the judicial process to secure the release of Iranian drug lord Naji Sharifi Zindashti. Prosecutors seek up to five years for Kuzu in this case.

Once the controversial photographs came to light, Kuzu told Cumhuriyet that Akkuş had visited him in the parliament to ask for his support when she was running as a lawmaker candidate from the AKP.

Mafia leader and Kuzu had ‘inside jokes’

Akkuş told Cumhuriyet that she had a “friendly” relationship with Kuzu to the extent that they had even inside jokes. “Prof. Burhan used to make jokes with me. I was a karate champion. And he was at the time the head of the Parliamentary Constitutional Commission. Prof. Burhan would say to me, ‘Let’s go to the commission together and you kick those who make me angry,’” Akkuş said.

“I ran as a lawmaker candidate for three periods. I have met and chatted with all ministers and lawmakers. Even our Interior Minister likes me. I have had my picture taken with all ministers. I got on Kuzu’s official car. When you run as a lawmaker candidate, you go to meetings etc. Of course you get on official cars,” she said.

Akkuş denied being a mafia figure, despite having received 22 years in jail on charges of “forming a gang” and “extortion.” “My enemies, Sedat Peker’s friends are framing me…The Court of Cassation overruled that sentence. I have been acquitted,” she said.

Kuzu: I am neither the first nor the last politician to phone a judge

Meanwhile, İYİ (Good) Party Group Deputy Chair Müsavat Dervişoğlu on May 29 criticized Kuzu’s relationship with Iranian drug lord Zindashti and slammed the former AKP lawmaker for trying to normalize his exerting pressure on the judiciary for Zindasthi’s release.

Dervişoğlu was referring to Kuzu’s remarks earlier this week, saying: “I am neither the first nor the last politician to phone a judiciary member. These are natural things. The law changed in 2014. Calling the judge prior to the launching of the investigation has been decriminalized.”

In response to Kuzu’s remarks, Dervişoğlu said that the AKP then prepared a legal framework to “legalize its own crimes.”

“What concerns me is that he said, ‘I am neither the first nor the last politician to call the judge in these cases.’ If Burhan Kuzu has a scientific honor stemming from his identity as an academic, then he should expose those who called the judges before himself and those who continued to do so afterwards,” he said.