Fresh mass purges hit Ankara and Izmir police in wake of graft investigation

Photo: Fresh mass purges hit Ankara and Izmir police in wake of graft investigation / Turkey

Turkey launched a mass new purge of the police Jan. 22 as hundreds of police officers were relocated in the latest fallout from a corruption scandal targeting several top politicians and business leaders close to the government, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Around 470 police were sacked or reassigned in the capital Ankara alone, daily Hurriyet reported, while ongoing purges in the Izmir Police Department have reached the lower echelons of the force as two deputy police chiefs and 10 department heads have been relocated.

The head of the Izmir police forces, Ali Bilkay, was relocated two weeks ago, a day after police conducted raids at the city's port as part of fraud investigations launched by the city's prosecutor. The probe also engulfed a relative of the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) candidate for mayor in Izmir, ex-Transport Minister Binali Yildirim.

The head of the financial crimes department, Matin Tuncer, who conducted the raids at the port, was also among the relocated officials, Dogan News Agency reported.

The purges, which have affected hundreds of police officers, have been interpreted as a tit-for-that response from the government for the graft investigations that implicated four ex-ministers and have affected almost all echelons of the Police Department.

The heads of the departments of Turkey's two biggest cities - Istanbul and Ankara - were also dismissed following the graft scandal.

Up to 500 officers were relocated to new assignments on Jan. 15 while on Jan. 8, almost 350 officers working in key operational units at the Ankara Police Department were dismissed in one sweep.

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