ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey’s top judicial body on Tuesday said it had dismissed four prosecutors who oversaw a massive corruption investigation which damaged the Islamic-rooted government and touched the inner circle of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) said Zekeriya Oz, Celal Kara, Muammer Akkas and Mehmet Yuzgec would be removed from their positions, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.
A final decision on the fate of the prosecutors was due after the conclusion of an investigation, it added. They might be dismissed from the profession entirely.
The four prosecutors, who were reassigned in the wake of the corruption scandal, are accused of abusing their authority by leading the December 2013 graft probe that rocked the government of Erdogan, then prime minister, and touched his inner circle.
The scandal, which dragged down four ministers, threw up one of the most serious challenges to Erdogan’s 11-year rule as prime minister.
Erdogan, who came out fighting from the crisis and switched to presidency in August, labelled the graft probe an attempted “judicial coup” staged by US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally-turned foe.
Thousands of supporters of Gulen had influential jobs in high places in the police and judiciary. But Gulen vehemently denied Erdogan’s suggestions he instigated the probe.
Prosecutors dropped the corruption case due to a “lack of evidence”, triggering protests from the opposition that it had been buried due to political pressure.
The Turkish strongman showed no mercy in the fight against Gulen supporters and struck back by seeking to tighten his grip over the judiciary, sacking thousands of police and prosecutors.
The authorities earlier this month launched raids against pro-Gulen media in a move sharply criticised by the EU as marking a new erosion of press freedom in Turkey.
A Turkish court has also issued an arrest warrant for Gulen himself although the United States has until now shown little interest in his extradition.