He said he had been exhausted by the four years he served as a specially authorized prosecutor. In response to a question as to whether the board's decision to remove him from the match-fixing probe may be based on claims about the alleged role of the Hizmet movement, Berk said, “I laughed a lot when I first heard about those claims. I laughed so much.
We explained how we obtained evidence related to match-fixing claims. We explained what we seized when following the gang. And what did they say? They said we [members of the Hizmet movement to which the prosecutor is said to belong] were trying to seize control [of Fenerbahçe]. I laughed for three days [at the claims].”
Since the start of the match-fixing investigation in July 2011, which led to the imprisonment of dozens of sports figures -- including Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım -- some circles have claimed that the Hizmet movement, led by renowned Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, is behind the investigation, with the aim of eventually seizing control of Fenerbahçe. The allegations intensified when Fenerbahçe lost the championship title to rival Galatasaray on May 12 and Fenerbahçe fans were subsequently involved in acts of violence.
The prosecutor said he was not “worn down” due to the match-fixing probe, but serving as a special prosecutor for four years was enough for him. “It was a difficult process for me. I am also a fan of Fenerbahçe. I had to carry out an investigation into people with whom I had drunk tea or had lunch in the past … People criticize [prosecutors] due to the match-fixing probe, but we did not make any mistake [during the investigation] purposefully,” he noted. Berk also said prosecutors involved in the match-fixing investigation were extra sensitive in order not to hurt or offend the suspects. “We wanted to protect the suspects [from being exposed to the press] and their private lives, but then some people claimed that we, the prosecutors, hid evidence related to the probe in favor of the suspects. And we underwent an investigation into the claims,” the prosecutor stated.
Berk also said Turkey would have to wait and see the result if specially authorized prosecutors and courts were stripped of their authority, as is allegedly being planned by the office of the Prime Ministry. “For instance, shut down the İstanbul Police Department’s Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crimes Unit for three months and send police officers at the unit on vacation. If everything looks OK without the unit and its officers then do the same for special courts and prosecutors. In Turkey, we usually see how things happen by experiencing them. Maybe stripping prosecutors and courts of their special authority will be good. We cannot know without seeing.”
Published on Today's Zaman, 14 June 2012, Thursday