A court ruled on Monday (May 18th) that President Abdullah Gul should stand trial in a fraud case involving missing party funds, despite his immunity as a head of state. The alleged fraud case dates back to the late 1990s, when the Welfare Party, a predecessor of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), reportedly embezzled millions of euros in state funds.
Later, Gul and other party members left the Welfare Party to found the AKP, and in 2007 he won the presidency. Monday’s court decision overturned an earlier ruling by the Ankara public prosecutor’s office that dismissed proceedings. The court cited a constitutional provision that enables prosecution of the current president for crimes committed before his election. But in a statement, the president’s office noted that according to the constitution, a president can be tried only for treason.