Fight over graft probe deepens as 16 police chiefs dismissed overnight

Fight over graft probe deepens as 16 police chiefs dismissed overnight

Fight over graft probe deepens as 16 police chiefs dismissed overnight

Ankara Police Chief Kadir Ay was relocated only a day after 350 officer under his command were dismissed.

The massive purge of Turkey’s police department has reached the highest echelons as police chiefs of 15 provinces across Turkey, including Ankara and İzmir, and the deputy head of the national police department were dismissed overnight by the Interior Ministry.

The dismissal of the Ankara police chief, Kadir Ay, comes only a day after 350 officers working in key operational units were relocated in one sweep.

The head of the İzmir forces, Ali Bilkay, has also been relocated. Fresh graft raids were conducted in İzmir on Jan. 7 as part of fraud investigations launched by the city’s prosecutor, leading to the detention of senior officials at the harbor operated by the Turkish State Railways (TCDD).

Along with the dismissal of former Istanbul police chief Hüseyin Çapkın a few days after the graft probe raids started on Dec. 17, the latest wave of purges means that the police chiefs of Turkey’s three biggest cities have now been replaced. 

Police chiefs have also been removed in the provinces of Adana, Antalya, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Erzurum, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kocaeli, Malatya, Mersin, Sakarya, Samsun, and Trabzon. All are among the most populous and economically more significant provinces of the country. Police Department Deputy Head Muammer Buçak has also been replaced.

Purges spill into finance, education ministries

Several top bureaucrats at the Finance Ministry and the Education Ministry have also been replaced in the massive purge.

Relocated high-level officials include Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek’s assistant secretary, who has been appointed as a consultant, which is a more passive function, reports said on Jan. 8. 

A number of general directors and heads of departments were also relocated. 

On Jan. 7, eight provincial heads for the Education Ministry were removed from duty.

The latest raids and subsequent police purges come as the government is engulfed in a vast scandal, with the sons of two ex-ministers and the chief executive of state-owned Halkbank still being held in custody.