The son of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (pictured) emerged as a possible suspect in the expanding corruption investigation on Thursday, even as the head prosecutor complained he had been stripped of his authority and removed from the case.
The possible involvement of Erdoğan’s son Bilal was revealed by the Prime Minister, who told reporters as he returned from Pakistan on Tuesday.
Erdoğan said the investigation was looking at the Service for Youth and Education Foundation of Turkey (TÜRGEV), an NGO which includes Bilal Erdoğan, on its board. He implied that TÜRGEV was being investigated for requesting amendments on the construction plans of a building, rented by Istanbul’s authorities as a student residence, with the approval of the Fatih Municipality.
“Is there any municipality that does not carry out social work? The municipality constructs student residences, then rents it for 25 years. You cannot say anything about it,” Erdoğan said. He continued:
That place is a student residence, not Bilal Erdoğan’s hotel. They want to reach me via TÜRGEV. My son is on [the] board of management. [Fatih Mayor] Mustafa Demir and the mayor of the Ümraniye district are also on the board. My eldest daughter Esra is on its board.
Demir was briefly detained last week on accusations of approving the construction license for a hotel near the route of a recently inaugurated railway, despite warnings from Japanese engineers that the construction could put the tunnel at risk of collapsing.
The Mayor is also being investigated for ordering the ministry report to be shelved in exchange for bribes.
On Thursday, prosecutor Muammer Akkas said he had been removed from a second corruption investigation, even larger than the one which detained more than 50 prominent political figures and businessmen this week.
I was removed from my duty without any justification, while the search warrants, seizure [of materials] and arrest orders [were taken from me]….All of the public and my colleagues should know that my task as a prosecutor has been obstructed….
By not implementing the court decisions, the police commissioners have committed a crime. They have also allowed room for the suspects to take measures, escape or tamper with the evidence.
More than 20 of the suspects in the first investigation remain in prison. They include the sons of two of Erdoğan’s Cabinet ministers, who resigned earlier this week along with a third minister whose son is under investigation.
Erdoğan replaced the trio and seven other ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday.