Nearly 280 police officers reassigned in four provinces

About 280 police officers have been reassigned in the past two days in Bursa, Şanlıurfa, Eskişehir and İstanbul provinces as part of a sweeping purge that began shortly after a graft probe in which four former Cabinet ministers are implicated became public, on Dec. 17, 2013.

A total of 91 police officers have been reassigned in the Bursa Police Department as part of the nationwide purge that has been continuing unabated since Dec. 17. The police officers were mostly from the crime scene investigation unit, the public security unit and the counter-terrorism unit of the department. With this latest purge, the number of police officers who have been reassigned since the graft probe has increased to 650 in total in Bursa province alone.

The Interior Ministry also removed at least 24 members of the police department in the southern province of Şanlıurfa on Monday, a day after at least 64 police officers were purged in the same province in one of the largest recent crackdowns. Monday’s shakeup included a police commissioner as well as two chiefs of police and 21 police officers from the public security, riot police, anti-terrorism and anti-smuggling units. The members of the police who were removed were appointed to less senior positions.

Furthermore, the ministry purged 16 police chiefs and two deputy police chiefs in Eskişehir province on Monday. Two provincial deputy police chiefs, a traffic police education unit chief, a deputy police chief, several police commissioners and a number of other officers had been removed from their jobs and appointed to less influential positions in a previous crackdown.

In İstanbul province 80 police officers from the İstanbul Police Department were reassigned on Monday. Most of those reassigned police officers had been working in the İstanbul Police Intelligence Unit and were reassigned to more junior positions in various districts.

Since the corruption investigation began, in addition to thousands of police officers, the government has replaced the prosecutors who initiated the probe as well others in public prosecutors’ offices and dozens of officials at various state institutions.

The suspects in the probe — sons of former ministers, well-known businessmen and bureaucrats, among others — are accused of rigging state tenders, accepting and facilitating bribes for major urbanization projects, obtaining construction permits for protected areas in exchange for money, helping foreigners to obtain Turkish citizenship through falsified documents and involvement in export fraud, the forgery of documents and gold smuggling.