Turkey's bosses issue probe warning as government widens police purge
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Industry and Business Association President Muharrem Yılmaz. AA PhotoTurkey’s largest business organization has urged the government to avoid any acts that may impact the independence of the judicial process in an ongoing graft investigation as the government continues to press for the purge of the police command.
“With regard to these [corruption and bribery] claims, all actions and remarks that may cast a shadow on the process should be avoided and the principles of judicial independence and the state of the rule of law should be maintained,” the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) said in a written statement on Dec. 20, stressing that the fraud claims presented a “worrying” picture.
TÜSİAD, which encompasses many of Turkey’s most prominent businesspeople, warned the authorities “not to repeat previous mistakes of past cases, which led to the victimization of people.”
“We expect all processes to be realized in such a way to support our confidence in the supremacy of law,” the organization added.
Amid heightened concerns over the government’s attempts to interfere into Turkey’s largest-ever corruption and bribery probe that has targeted people close to the administration, the government has moved to remove high-ranking officials in the police department.
In the latest of a number of massive purges, 14 heads of police departments were discharged Dec. 20, a day after the Istanbul police chief and 18 others were dismissed.
On Dec. 19 Istanbul Police Chief Hüseyin Çapkın joined a long list of police officials dismissed from their posts, to be replaced with Aksaray Gov. Selami Altınok.
Over 80 people were detained in Istanbul and Ankara on the morning of Dec. 17 as part of the probe into tender fraud and bribery allegations.
Turkey has been transfixed since the detention of the suspects, including the sons of Interior Minister Muammer Güler, Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar and Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan.
Eight suspects were arrested at midnight on Dec. 19, while 50 more, including two ministers’ sons, Fatih’s mayor and Azeri businessman Reza Zarrab, were transferred to court.
After receiving their depositions, the prosecutors in the case sent the interior minister’s son Barış Güler and economy minister’s son Kaan Çağlayan to court with a request for their arrest, along with 12 others, toward evening, when the Hürriyet Daily News went to print.
Meanwhile, five suspects, who were taken into custody in raids staged on Dec. 17, have been released.
A few hours after two people were freed by the court on the night of Dec. 19, three more suspects were released after being questioned by the police department.
On the night of Dec. 18, another nine suspects were released in Istanbul after health checks.