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Turkish prosecutor says police obstructed corruption case

Source: Reuters - Thu, 26 Dec 2013 14:55 GMT
Author: Reuters
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ISTANBUL, Dec 26 (Reuters) - A Turkish prosecutor said on Thursday he had been removed from a high-level corruption case which has shaken Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government and that police had obstructed proceedings by failing to carry out some arrests.

"By means of the police force, the judiciary was subjected to open pressure, and the execution of court orders was obstructed," public prosecutor Muammer Akkas said in a written statement distributed to Turkish media.

"A crime has been committed throughout the chain of command ... Suspects have been allowed to take precautions, flee and tamper with the evidence."

Though Akkas did not identify anyone by name, his allegations looked likely to add to spiralling anger in Turkey over the case that erupted on Dec. 17 with the detention on graft charges of dozens of people, among them the sons of three cabinet ministers and the head of state-run Halkbank.

Erdogan portrayed the probe as a foreign-orchestrated plot without legal merit and responded by sacking or reassigning some 70 of the police officers involved, including the chief of the force in Istanbul, where Halkbank is headquartered.

Akkas said he had ordered more suspects to be taken into custody on Wednesday but that police did not comply.

"As of today ... I have found out that I have been removed from my jurisdiction with no reason given," he said. "All of my colleagues and the public should know that my ability as a public prosecutor to conduct an investigation has been obstructed." (Writing by Ece Toksabay, editing by David Evans)

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