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Turkish Prosecutors Drop Case Against 60 in Corruption Probe

Turkish prosecutors drop a case against 60 people, including the son of a former minister, in a corruption probe.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 5/2/2014, 11:50 PM

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Reuters

Turkish prosecutors on Friday dropped a case against 60 people, including the son of a former minister, in a corruption probe that has rocked the Islamic-rooted government, local media said, according to AFP.

An Istanbul prosecutor handling the probe into graft in Turkey's housing agency TOKI decided not to take the suspects to court, citing "lack of evidence" for his decision, the report said.

The suspects who escaped prosecution include Oguz Bayraktar, the son of former environment minister Erdogan Bayraktar, and construction tycoon Ali Agaoglu, the Turkish Dogan news agency reported.

They were detained in police raids in mid-December when the corruption scandal first erupted and charged with accepting and facilitating bribes for construction projects and securing construction permits for protected areas.

Some 30 other key allies of the prime minister, including the sons of two other cabinet ministers, are still facing charges for a raft offenses including corruption, fraud and money laundering. The three ministers have since resigned.

The corruption scandal has forced the embattled Erdogan to replace half the ministers in his cabinet. He Accused supporters of a former ally turned arch-rival, U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, of instigating the graft probe to topple his government.

The corruption allegations against Erdogan have also resulted in him ordering to block access to Twitter, after it was used to spread a torrent of anonymous leaks implicating his inner circle in corruption.

However, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled on April 2 that the country’s ban on Twitter violated people’s right to freedom of expression and demanded access be restored.

The court thus upheld a ruling by a lower court, which had ordered that the Twitter ban be lifted.

Several days after the ban was lifted, Erdogan stated that, while Twitter had been reinstituted in Turkey, he is not pleased with the decision.

“We have to implement [the ruling], but we don't have to respect it," he said at the time. “Not only Twitter, but YouTube and Facebook are commercial companies as well. I don’t find it right and patriotic that the Constitutional Court has adopted such a decision two days after a direct application in which there were so many files waiting to be reviewed at the Constitutional Court.”

Despite recent troubles, Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party has managed to emerge relatively unscathed from the scandal, scoring a resounding victory in March 30 local elections and winning 45 percent of the vote.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)