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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Tarkan's Lawyer Speaks: Tarkan is Innocent

By Kaya Turan reporting from Rochester, UK

Turkish pop singer Tarkan waves cheering supporters after his release outside a courthouse in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, March 1, 2010. Turkish police detained Tarkan, the country's best-known pop star, in a narcotics raid Friday in Istanbul along with nine other people. Tarkan, who only uses one name, and others were detained for their alleged links with two drug dealers being monitored by narcotics agents, the state-run Anatolia news agency said. Police reportedly found and seized a small amount of hashish at the pop star's country home in the Omerli district near Istanbul, the agency said. (AP Photo)Turkish pop singer Tarkan waves cheering supporters after his release outside a courthouse in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo)

After a four day detention during last weekend because of a drugs raid at his home, a lot of rumours were published about Tarkan in the press.

It was said Tarkan's reading material whilst in custody was on karmic philosophy and the works of poet Rumi, as though being retrospective on his "crimes". Although reports did come out that Tarkan dismissed the charges, with even his mother reportedly making statements strongly denying her son's drug use, news stories were published that Tarkan had accepted using drugs, apologised to the Turkish public and had agreed to go into rehab. It was even reported that he had blamed the drug bust on his chauffeur, and that he had resisted arrest.

But how much of these reports were true? Tarkan's lawyer says none of them, and that the singer is innocent of drug use.

Initial Media Silence

After Tarkan was released at the end of a court hearing last Monday, he told the large group of supporters that were waiting for him outside only that he loved them, before he and his camp fell back into the traditional media silence.

During this silence, the Turkish press debated over the incident. There were debates over the reported special treatment Tarkan was given during his detainment.

Today's Zaman had reported that while all the suspects other than Tarkan were handcuffed while being transported to the courthouse, Tarkan was not. It was claimed a man disguised as Tarkan was brought into the main entrance of the courthouse, while Tarkan was taken through a special entrance used by judges and prosecutors.

It was reported that the singer had suffered a panic attack and that the singer underwent health checks two times a day at the police station. Still, Tarkan's camp kept its silence.

Tarkan Deluxe had kept this silence, too, even though we were inundated with mails from fans - with some expressing disappointment, some wondering why we hadn't reported the news yet and some offering advice and support for the star, hoping for a swift rehabilitation.

Screencap of reportWhen we contacted official sources, we were met with the response that Tarkan did not use drugs. It was the same - almost blanket - response that Tarkan's lawyer, Yunus Egemenoğlu, gave yesterday when he broke media silence to speak on Turkish news station NTV's current affairs show Canlı Gaste, hosted by reputable journalist Can Dündar (see left pic).

Talking on the show via phone link, Tarkan's lawyer said that all the reports in the media were completely false, and that they had kept their silence because of the requirement by law and due process.

Egemenoğlu called this treatment of the press by Tarkan as a public lynching, and that the singer was still the man Turkey had first come to love nearly two decades ago.

Tarkan's Lawyer: All Reports are False

Tarkan's Press Statement
Tarkan's press statement dismisses all claims made
by the Turkish media
Speaking to Dündar after an initial problem with the phone link-up, Egemenoğlu spoke with complete conviction that his client was innocent.

Explaining that the singer's detention took a long time as there were a lot of people's statements to take, the lawyer said Tarkan was released by the prosecution without even needing to appear in court and that all subsequent reports about Tarkan in the press was false.

"Neither we or Tarkan, under any circumstances, made any comment to any media organ or anyone other than the necessary law departments," he said.

Clarifying the situation, Egemenoğlu stressed that no cocaine was found on Tarkan or at his home. He went on to deny all claims that Tarkan was addicted to cocaine, "or any other drug" or that the singer knew any drug dealers.

"It is also not true that he resisted arrest. He aided all investigations readily and voluntarily and was treated in accordance with all necessary human rights conventions and laws while detained by the police. He has not made any complaints against his chauffeur, either."

And in response to the criticism that Tarkan had not been handcuffed, Egemenoğlu said that if there was no danger of suspects fleeing, then handcuffs were unnecessary. He went on to say that criticism should not have been directed at why Tarkan was not handcuffed, but rather towards the use of handcuffs on the others.

"A Public Lynching"

Egemenoğlu described the actions of the Turkish press towards Tarkan after his arrest as a public lynching.

"If they were reporting leaks from official channels, we would know about it, but the reports published by certain media companies are completely fabricated. Even though Tarkan has been released, these same channels are still calling Tarkan a drug addict. It is hurtful," the lawyer said, "and it can only be described as a lynching."

Reminding the journalist that Tarkan had suffered through such injustices from the Turkish press before, Egemenoğlu said that Tarkan, his family and those that loved him were all suffering because of it.

"Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and has a right of due process in law. One day everyone will be in need of the law," he warned.

Putting on a Show?

Screencap of reportsDespite the warnings, however, the continuing coverage from certain sections in the press that Tarkan's lawyer speaks about seems to indicate that Egemenoğlu's statements will not be enough to silence Tarkan's critics (see left pic).

Reports have ranged from the star being criticised for "putting on a show" after his release (Vatan) - and reportedly defending himself by explaining he had been thanking his fans for their support - to the fans themselves being criticised by male columnist Mesut Yar for chanting that "Turkey is proud" of the artist (Posta).

And as the left-wing media take the police to task for their soft approach with the star (BirGün), other papers are reporting that Tarkan has now locked himself away in the studio to concentrate on his latest release (Milliyet).

It goes to show that whatever the final fallout of the drug bust will be, people will no doubt always ask: what's next for Tarkan?

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