Ankara dismisses most senior commander yet in ongoing purge

Newest development latest in series of political scandals rocking Turkey; Other commanders also removed from posts.

Erdogan jazz hands 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Erdogan jazz hands 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkey’s deputy police chief was sacked overnight Tuesday, the most senior commander yet targeted in the purge of a force heavily influenced by a cleric Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses of plotting to seize the levers of state power.
Erdogan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party) sent plans to parliament allowing government more say over appointment of prosecutors and judges. He argued that a judiciary and police in the sway of cleric Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet (“The Service”) movement contrived a graft investigation that is shaking his administration.
The police website said the deputy head of the national police, Muammer Bucak, and provincial chiefs, among them the commanders in the capital Ankara and the Aegean province of Izmir, were removed from their posts overnight.
The government has purged hundreds of police since the graft scandal erupted on December 17 with the detention of dozens of people including businessmen close to the government and three cabinet ministers’ sons.
Among the those questioned, most have been released. A remaining 24, including two of the ministers’ sons, remain in custody, according to local media.
Details of the allegations have not been made public, but are believed to relate to construction and real estate projects and Turkey’s gold trade with Iran, according to Turkish newspaper reports citing prosecutors’ documents.
Relating to a tender rigging investigation, police conducted raids in various cities on Tuesday. They arrested 25 suspects from Turkish State Railways, port directors and businessmen, Turkey’s Today’s Zaman newspaper reported.
Turkey’s opposition leader said Erdogan would stand trial on corruption charges one day.
“He [Erdogan] says, ‘I would judge the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, if I had the authority.’ But he can’t have such an authority, he can’t judge. Judges do this.
Will you stand before these judges one day? Yes, you will stand when clean politics prevail in this country,” Kılıcdaroglu told a party parliamentary meeting on Tuesday according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News.
The CHP Republican People’s Party leader called the ruling AKP “completely corrupt.”
Meanwhile, an EU official spokesman said events in Turkey are a “cause of concern,” reported AFP.
Separately, an agreement between Japan and Turkey to build a nuclear plant in Turkey is raising proliferation concerns in Japan, according to a report by the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun.
The two countries signed an agreement in May for Japan to export nuclear technology to Turkey.
The agreement would enable Turkey to enrich uranium and extract plutonium, a material that can be used for making nuclear weapons.
Erdogan discussed the project with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday in Japan.