BEIRUT

Middle East

Turkey in new regional police shakeup

Turkish lawmakers and Parliament Vice Chairman Sadik Yakut (rear C) argue during a debate on a draft bill to tighten its grip on High Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), a panel that controls the appointment of all judges and prosecutors in Ankara on January 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

ANKARA: Turkish authorities pressed on with a massive purge of police on Thursday, removing more than 160 officers from their posts in a single city, local media reported.

The shakeup in the western metropolis of Bursa came on the heels of a similar round of sackings or reassignments in the main cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has gone after hundreds of police and prosecutors in what is seen as a reprisal for a corruption probe that has struck at the heart of the political elite.

The Turkish media estimates that at least 2,500 police, including top officers, have been punished since the graft scandal erupted in mid-December.

Dozens of prosecutors, including senior lawyers involved in the investigations into alleged money laundering, gold smuggling and bribery in real estate deals, have also been sacked.

Erdogan accuses an erstwhile ally, exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, of creating a "parallel" state to try to topple his government via loyalists in various institutions including the police and judiciary.

But the purges, coupled with legislation aimed at increasing government control on the judiciary and the Internet, have raised deep concern at home and abroad about the state of democracy in the majority Muslim country.

 

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