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Two key officers suspended amid Erdogan police purge

Conservative PM calls investigation of party 'judicial coup'

Two senior police officers were suspended from key posts in the Turkish city of Izmir, just hours after some 25 people were detained in a new bribery and fraud investigation.

Izmir's police chief was among 16 senior police officials across Turkey who were summarily reassigned to desk jobs.

The purge is a signal to police that the government will continue to hit back at officers leading investigations embarrassing to the administration.

The government is also scrambling to contain a scandal that has implicated former Cabinet ministers.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired the ministers but has denounced the investigation as a conspiracy to harm his government.

Just hours earlier Mr Erdogan's AK Party had sent plans to parliament which would give the government much more say over judicial appointments.

The Bill proposed changes to the structure of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) which is responsible for appointments at all levels of the judiciary.

These changes would allow the justice minister's undersecretary to be elected as chairman of the HSYK board, giving the government a much tighter grip over the choice of judges.

"No-one should remain unsupervised. In this country, the prime minister will be supervised, ministers will be supervised, parliament members will be supervised, but not these gentlemen?" Mr Erdogan asked a rally of supporters on December 29. "This is not how it works."

He has cast the graft investigation as an attempted "judicial coup" contrived by Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen who, Mr Erdogan says, exercises broad but covert influence in the judiciary and police.

Mr Gulen's Hizmet movement exercises influence through a network of contacts built on sponsorship of schools and other social and media organisations.

Hizmet and Mr Erdogan's administration accuse each other of manipulating the police and judiciary.

However, the movement flatly denies unleashing the corruption investigation.


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