Turkish businessmen are standing on the side of İstanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO) President Murat Yalçıntaş, defending him against charges of bribery and concealing evidence of crime, for which nine suspects, including Yalçıntaş, were arrested by an Ankara court on Tuesday.
The İTO president is currently behind bars at Ankara's Sincan Prison. The former head of the 12th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Mustafa Oskay, is also among the nine people in custody.
The first declaration of support came from Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, who spoke after paying a visit to İTO's headquarters in İstanbul. He said the case is being heard by court now and that he has no doubt that the judges will rule justly and separate the guilty from the innocent. "We strongly believe in Turkish justice. It is wrong to label people guilty while legal proceedings continue," he noted.
Anatolian Lions Businessmen's Association (ASKON) General Manager Mustafa Koca also announced support for Yalçıntaş and his strong belief in his innocence. In a written statement on Friday, he said he could not believe that the İTO president was involved in the alleged crimes. "We are witnesses to how meticulous he has been in abiding by laws and regulations during his term in office. It is obvious that he is very confident about his innocence because he interrupted an overseas business trip after the allegations were brought up and voluntarily turned himself in," he noted.
Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Association (KOBİDER) President Nurettin Özgenç, in a note yesterday, said Yalçıntaş's arrest had shocked the business world. "We can't understand him being put in jail because there is a possibility that evidence would be obstructed. His name and address are already well known and he is a member of İstanbul's respected families. We believe Yalçıntaş does not have recourse to such illegal actions as running away or tampering with evidence," he noted.
Prosecutors have charged Yalçıntaş with offering bribes to judges in the case of a land dispute between the İstanbul World Trade Center (İDTM) and the CNR Expo Center. The İDTM administration allegedly bribed judges and lawyers to urge them to rule against the CNR. An inspection carried out by the Ministry of Justice revealed that the judges and lawyers had received TL 1.2 million from the trade center.