A tip-off letter to the office of the prime minister noted that Daryal Batıbay, the former permanent representative of Turkey to the CoE, had seized 2,000 bottles of wines that had been purchased by the office for events and hosting balls, the Sabah daily noted on Monday.
Moreover, Batıbay was accused of purchasing new, expensive wines for his personal use with funds belonging to the mission. The claim prompted the launch of an investigation by the office of the prime minister.
Two experts from the Ethics Council, a department of the Prime Ministry that investigates allegations against civil servants, questioned officials from the mission in Strasbourg, the same daily noted.
Former Ambassador Batıbay was accused of taking the missing wine to Turkey in October 2011 in a truck that was loaded with personal items belonging to the diplomat. Because it was carrying the diplomat's belongings, the truck was able to pass through the border gate without a strict check.
An employee from the Strasbourg office informed police in the western province of Edirne, which borders Bulgaria and Greece, about the incident, according to the Sabah daily. However, border police could do nothing because the truck had already entered the country. Based on the available evidence, the ethics council in Ankara will ask the former ambassador to provide it with a statement of defense.
The Ministry of Customs and Trade is also investigating the case, as the wine allegedly brought into the country by Batıbay would have evaded the applicable customs tariffs. Within the scope of the investigation, officials at the ministry also found that a BMW sports car had been bought by the ambassador for his own use with funds belonging to the mission.
Batıbay, who is currently in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), refused to comment on the investigation when contacted by the Sabah daily. He did note, however, that the mission has a fund allotted for the hosting of guests and the organization of events. Food and drink may be purchased with that fund, he added. When asked about the BMW sports car he used, Batıbay claimed the car had been bought by the Turkish state.
Former Ambassador Batıbay was a prominent diplomat of the Foreign Ministry. He retired on Aug. 28, 2011, after eight years of service as Turkey's permanent representative to the Council of Europe. He had also served as Turkey's ambassador to China and other places before being assigned to Strasbourg.