Turkish prosecutors launch investigation into Erdoğan’s advisor

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into Burhan Kuzu, a former member of parliament and an advisor to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, over his suspected role in the release of a prominent Iranian mobster, Euronews reported

Naji Sharifi Zindashti was arrested  for the first time in 2007 in Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece district and police seized 75,300 kg of heroin. 

He was released in August 2010 and months later became a witness in the Ergenekon trials, a chain of arrests and prosecutions against what prosecutors said was a conspiracy to bring down the government by a rogue, secularist nationalist group.

Zindashti was again detained in Büyükçekmece in 2018 in relation to the killing of a number of men who were suspected of murdering Zindashti’s daughter and her driver in 2014. Six months later a court ordered his release saying there was no evidence tying him to the murders. The same day Zindashti got out of prison, another court issued an arrest warrant for him, but the Iranian had already disappeared.

Habertürk columnist Fatih Altaylı then accused Burhan Kuzu of being linked to Zindashti’s release. An investigation was launched into the judge who ordered Zindashti’s acquittal. The judge described Kuzu, without giving his name, and said the politician had continuously pressured him to free Zindashti.

Kuzu at first denied any links to Zindashti, but media published photographs of the two together and Kuzu said Zindashti had approached him seeking help to become a Turkish citizen.

Kuzu, a constitutional law professor, is a senior figure in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). He played an important role in formulating Turkey’s new executive presidential system, which was approved in a referendum in 2017 and went into effect after presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018.