Police raid part of AKP’s local poll plans: Mayor
ESKİŞEHİR - Hürriyet Daily News
‘I’m sure that our [detained] colleagues are innocent, but I’m afraid they will remain behind bars for months,’ says Eskişehir Mayor Büyükerşen, recalling officials from another CHP-led İzmir municipality remained under detention pending trial for months. Daily News PhotoDetention of employees at Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality taken into custody on Jan. 28 as part of an investigation into the “city development tender,” will disrupt an urban transportation project as aims to harm opposition parties in re-election campaigns, Eskişehir Mayor Yılmaz Büyükerşen has said.
“We have been working on the expansion of our city’s light-rail transportation network. People taken into custody are our engineers who have critical positions in the construction of this project. If they are arrested – that would mean they will remain under detention pending trial for months, considering our legal system – this project will be disrupted and not be finalized by local election times,” Büyükerşen told the Hürriyet Daily News on Jan. 30.
Seven people were still giving their testimony to the prosecutor when the mayor spoke to the Daily News, and later five of them were arrested around 3 a.m. yesterday. Fifteen of the 22 people taken into custody were arrested in raids on their homes conducted as part of an investigation into the “city development tender.”
Describing the legal action as a “defamation campaign” against him, Büyükerşen said the government is backing a “baseless legal operation” against Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality. “The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has exerted itself to the utmost to win local elections in Eskişehir,” the mayor said. “The recent raid clearly shows that the AKP, which came to rule thanks to democracy, is moving away from democracy.”
Büyükerşen, who has been the mayor of Eskişehir since 1999, is arguably the most popular and appreciated mayor among the municipalities led by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Under Büyükerşen, the Anatolian city of Eskişehir has undergone tremendous transformations and developed into a world-class city. Recent legal action is related to one of the tenders for the cleanup of the Porsuk River dating back to 2006. Büyükerşen said that the Municipal Council members from the AKP issued complaints to the Interior Ministry regarding alleged bid-rigging in 2006. Ministry inspectors examined all files and proceedings regarding the tender and found no faults, according to Büyükerşen.
Later in 2010, the same Municipal Council members issued a criminal complaint for alleged bid-rigging and the municipality again shared all documents with the police, he said.
“The police have not been able to find anything for the last two years, however they launched this operation. I’m sure that our [detained] colleagues are innocent, but I’m afraid they will remain behind bars for months,” he added, noting that officials from another CHP-led İzmir municipality remained under detention pending trial for months.
Referring to a recent legal regulation that redraws the constituencies of metropolitan municipalities, He said that the government is backing legal actions against opposition municipalities to win local polls in cities led by mayors of opposition parties.