Turkish prosecutor removed from fraud probe
Akkas says investigation targeting government and business circles has been blocked by police and chief prosecutor.
A Turkish public prosecutor has said that he was prevented from doing his job hours after he was removed from an extensive corruption investigation targeting business and government circles.
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Muammer Akkas was removed from the investigation by Oktay Erdogan, Istanbul deputy chief public prosecutor, on the grounds that Akkas violated the confidentiality of the investigation, Turkish media reports said.
In a statement he made right after he was removed on Thursday, the prosecutor alleged that the probe has been blocked by Turkish police forces and Istanbul’s chief prosecutor through “not implementing court verdicts” and “putting pressure on the judiciary”.
According to Akkas, these actions have stymied further arrests in the investigation, which has already netted several high-profile political and business figures suspected of bribery and corruption.
He said that Turkey’s public “should be aware that I, as public prosecutor, have been prevented from implementing an investigation”.
Police ‘acting illegally’
On Wednesday he was reported to have ordered the detention of 30 more suspects in the case, including ruling high circles in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Akkas said that police commissioners were acting illegally by disobeying court orders furthering the probe.
|Al Jazeera’s Isil Sariyuce reports from Istanbul|
His charge came the day after Erdogan reshuffled nearly half his cabinet following the resignation of his interior, economy and environment ministers, all of whose sons have been implicated in the scandal.
The outgoing Erdogan Bayraktar, the environment minister, told Turkey’s NTV television on Tuesday that he had been pressured to quit and said, “I am stepping down as minister and MP… I believe the prime minister should also resign.”
The government started reshuffling the Turkish police force hours after the investigation was revealed last week, moving dozens of senior police officers, including the Istanbul police chief, to passive positions over Ankara’s claims of “abuse of office”.
The investigations are widely believed to be linked to the recent tensions between the US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement and Erdogan’s AKP that, many analysts say, used to be allies in the past in a struggle against Turkey’s politically dominant military.
The tensions, which have been festering for months, peaked after the government’s plans to abolish private prep schools. Gulen owns a large network of such schools.
Erdogan recently said that those behind the investigations were trying to form a “state within a state”, an apparent reference to Gulen’s movement, whose followers are influential in Turkey’s police and judiciary.
He the investigations called a “dirty operation” to smear his administration and undermine the country’s progress.