Tuesday, March 30, 2010
DİKİLİ, İzmir - From wire dispatches
The mayor of a coastal town in the Izmir province, accused of “abusing power” for providing free water to those in his constituency, was acquitted.
Dikili prosecutor demanded the acquittal of the 21 suspects, including Özgüven, in the first trial held Monday, saying that “No effort for the public good can be deemed as a crime.” The court agreed with the prosecutor and acquitted the suspects, reported the Doğan news agency.
The mayor said after the decision that the court decided that the access to clean water, education and transportation are basic human rights and should be free. “The only things people cannot produce are water, air and soil,” Özgüven told an audience in front of the court house. “The municipalities are public institutions, not private companies. They do not work to make profits. The main point here is not my acquittal, but the court’s approval of what we’ve been advocating.”
Özgüven added that the municipality will expand the free water campaign to include more people and will urge the residents of Dikili to use as much water as they need.
Arif Ali Cangı, one of Dikili Municipality’s lawyers, told the Anatolia new agency that the judiciary approved the access to water as a right and emphasized that the municipalities are public institutions. “This is not only a case about the Dikili Municipality, said Cangı. “I believe that this decision will set an example for all municipalities. Citizens should demand free water from their municipalities if they are using less than 10 tons a month.”
Süleyman Çelebi, the president of the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions, or DİSK, was also in Dikili to support Özgüven. He said he was happy with the decision. “Unfortunately, those who work for the good of the people face trials in this country,” he said. Özgüven, who was re-elected for the post in 2009 local elections from the Republican People's Party, or CHP, made public buses free, obliged bus drivers to drop students off at their homes, provided affordable health services at a municipal clinics, sold bread in municipal bakeries at low prices and did not charge households that use less than 10 tons of water a month.
His initiatives, however, led the Auditor's Office to launch an investigation into his actions, with the inspector accusing Özgüven of “abusing power” for the "free water" campaign. A case was filed against the mayor in April, 2008.