About 350 police officers have been sacked in Turkey’s capital Ankara, following a corruption probe targeting people close to the government, reports say.
Officials, mostly from outside the city, have been named to replace them.
Hundreds of police have been dismissed or reassigned across Turkey since last month’s corruption investigation. Three cabinet ministers resigned after their sons were detained in the raids.
PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the police and judiciary of a “dirty plot”.
The arrests were carried out as part of an inquiry into alleged bribery involving public tenders, which included controversial building projects in Istanbul.
Hundreds of police have been dismissed or reassigned across Turkey since last month’s corruption investigation
Those detained in the December 17 raids included more than 50 public officials and businessmen – all allies of the prime minister.
The latest round of police sackings and reassignments were carried out under a government decree published at midnight.
Those removed from their posts include chiefs of the financial crimes, anti-smuggling and organized crime units, the private Dogan News Agency reported.
The move comes as the government is trying to contain the fall-out from the corruption inquiry.
Many believe the arrests and firings reflect a feud within Turkey’s ruling AK Party between those who back Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, an influential Islamic scholar living in self-imposed exile in the US.
Members of Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet movement are said to hold influential positions in institutions such as the police, the judiciary and the AK Party itself.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he would not allow “political plotting”.
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Turkey’s PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he favors the retrial of hundreds of military officers convicted of plotting to overthrow the government.
The move comes after Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s senior adviser suggested that the officers had been framed by the police and judiciary.
Hundreds of people were jailed in 2012 and 2013 in two high-profile cases, called Sledgehammer and Ergenekon.
Correspondents say the remarks represent a political turnaround.
“Our position on a retrial is a favorable one,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul on Sunday.
“First we must establish the legal grounding for fresh trials.”
It comes as political tensions run high over alleged corruption in the Turkish government.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the police and judiciary of orchestrating a probe which led to the resignation of his ministers.
The ruling AK Party is rooted in political Islam and has moved to curb the power of the Turkish military, which sees itself as guardian of the modern secular state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he favors the retrial of hundreds of military officers convicted of plotting to overthrow the government
The prime minister now appears to have taken the side of the military he once opposed. In recent days, the army has filed a criminal complaint calling for retrials.
During the early years of his administration, Recep Tayyip Erdogan formed an unofficial alliance with prosecutors in an effort to remove the military from politics.
This effort culminated with two major trials relating to separate alleged plots – Sledgehammer and Ergenekon. They were seen as major challenges to Turkey’s secularist traditions.
But in December, some of the same prosecutors involved in those investigations ordered the arrest of a number of the prime minister’s own allies.
Three ministers resigned after their sons were arrested, along with dozens of others, over alleged wrongdoing in construction contracts and deals with Iran.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the investigation as a “dirty plot”.
The armed forces then suggested that this “plotting” also included the convictions of officers, and demanded a retrial.
The former armed forces chief, General Ilker Basbug, was among dozens of people given long jail terms. Lawyers, politicians and journalists were convicted, along with many military officers.
Analysts say the latest dispute over corruption is part of a power struggle between Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and an influential US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who is said to have many followers within Turkey’s police and judiciary.
For decades, the armed forces were the ultimate arbiter in Turkish politics.
Between 1960 and 1997, the military forced out four civilian governments.
But over the last decade, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has changed the balance of power in Turkey.
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Turkey’s PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced a corruption inquiry as a “dirty operation” against his government.
Some 52 people – including three sons of cabinet ministers – were arrested in dawn raids on Tuesday in connection with a high-profile bribery inquiry.
Five police chiefs who oversaw raids in Istanbul and Ankara were sacked for “abuse of office”, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
“We will not allow political plotting,” he said.
However, the deputy prime minister promised not to stand in the way of the judicial process.
“We will always respect any decision made by the judiciary and will not engage in any effort to block this process,” Bulent Arinc said.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the corruption inquiry as a “dirty operation” against his government
Commentators in Turkey believe the arrests – and subsequent firings – are evidence of a new dramatic fault-line in Turkish politics, one within the AK Party itself.
The feud is believed to involve supporters of Fethullah Gulen, an influential Islamic scholar living in exile in the US who once backed the ruling AK Party, helping it to victory in three elections since 2002.
Members of Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet movement are said to hold influential positions in institutions from the police and secret services to the judiciary and the AK Party itself.
In recent months, the alliance began to come apart and in November the government discussed closing down private schools, including those run by Hizmet.
Fethullah Gulen has been living in the US since 1999, when he was accused in Turkey of plotting against the secular state.
The five police commissioners sacked include the heads of the financial crime and organized crime units, who were both involved in the earlier arrests, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reports.
Also dismissed were the heads of the smuggling unit, the anti-terrorism branch and the public security branch, the paper says.
In a brief statement, the police said they had reassigned some staff, in some cases due to alleged misconduct and others “out of administrative necessity”.
The mass arrests were carried out as part of an inquiry into alleged bribery involving public tenders.
The sons of Interior Minister Muammer Guler, Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan and Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar were among those detained.
For the first time since 1999, four Turkish women MPs have appeared in parliament in Ankara wearing headscarves.
The lawmakers are members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has roots in political Islam.
Last month, Turkey lifted the headscarf ban in a number of state institutions.
The ban was one of the most contentious laws in Turkey, pitting backers of the secular constitution against those who favour Islamic rights.
“I will no longer take off my headscarf,” Gonul Bekin Sahkulubey, one of the four MPs, was quoted as saying by Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper.
Last month, Turkey lifted the headscarf ban in a number of state institutions
“I expect everyone to respect my decision.”
A number of fellow MPs gathered around their colleague to take pictures.
Supporters of the women said their move was yet another step towards normalizing the wearing of headscarves.
However, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) accused the governing party of PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan of undermining the country’s secular traditions.
The CHP also said the move was an election gimmick ahead of municipal polls next March.
This is the first time MPs have worn the headscarf in parliament since an abortive attempt in 1999.
Back then, lawmaker Merve Kavakci arrived in the assembly in a headscarf for her swearing-in ceremony – only to be booed out of the building.
The reversal of the ban was part of major political reforms – including new Kurdish rights – announced last month by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the move as “a historic moment”.
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