(Sabah Newspaper, 5 November 2012)
Titans of Industry
In Izmir, when Rifat Atmaca (41), a father of
three who has epilepsy, and Fethi Gokdere (42),
who has one eye and lives with a sibling, met up
with Erol Ture in 2006 their lives took a turn for
the worse. Allegedly, Ture got the two unemployed
fellows to give him their identity cards, promising
to get them insurance.
Twenty days later Ture, an accountant, gave the two
their identity cards back and took them to a notary to
"initiate your insurance policies." There they signed
a number of documents and soon afterwards Ture
disappeared. However, in 2007 notices of outstanding
tax bills and payment notices started to arrive at their
Not being able to pay the debts, the two duped fellows
went from court to court until in 2009 Atmaca was
given a sentence of 1 year 8 months for the crime of
"fraud with an official document" by the Menderes
Court of First Instance. The sentence was suspended,
giving Atmaca some relief, but he was hit by a sentence
of 2 years 6 months on 12 April 2012 by the Izmir 18th
Court of First Instance for "actions contrary to the tax
Atmaca had thus committed two crimes in 5 years so
the suspended sentence for the first one was revoked
and he was faced with serving 4 years 6 months in jail.
Only by borrowing 46 TL from his friends was he able
to file an appeal and avoid going to prison.
In the course of a police operation against fraudulent
contracting firms both Atmaca and Gokdere were arrested
as "gang members" because they were listed on documents
as "contractors". Thirty hours later they were found to be
innocent and released after giving statements.
Gokdere said "don't give your identity card to anyone.
I've been unemployed for 12 years but there are 9
companies listed to my name and I have a debt of 6
million TL. What happened to us is worse than that
of a cooked chicken."
As for Atmaca, who is "chairman" of 14 companies and
has a debt of 10 million TL, he said that "my wife had
asthma and she died, leaving me raise our three kids.
Since I have epilepsy I can't work and because of my
debts, coal and financial assistance has been cut off. I
don't have a lira in my pocket. How could I be a company
chairman? But I couldn't convince the judges of this. At
the hearings I'd say "judge sir, I have no teeth. How could
I be a boss?""