Eight arrested, many others referred to court in bribery operation

Eight arrested, many others referred to court in bribery operation
# 20 December 2013 21:23 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Eight people who had been taken into custody as part of an investigation into a bribery and fraud ring were arrested late on Thursday and early on Friday while dozens more were referred to an Ä°stanbul court for questioning, APA reports quoting today’s zaman.

The court arrested the eight suspects on charges of paying and receiving bribes. Among them is Sebahattin Demir, brother of Ä°stanbul's Fatih District Mayor Mustafa Demir. The eight people arrested have been sent to an Ä°stanbul prison.

In the meantime, 50 more suspects, including Mayor Demir and the son of Interior Minister Muammer Güler, have been sent to court for detailed questioning on Friday morning. The suspects left the police department's anti-organized crime branch in the early morning hours of Friday after their interrogation by prosecutors was completed. Following medical examinations at the Haseki Teaching and Research Hospital, the suspects were referred to an Ä°stanbul court in the ÇaÄŸlayan district. No details from the suspects' testimonies were immediately available to the press.

The suspects are accused of rigging state tenders, accepting and facilitating the payment of bribes for major urbanization projects, obtaining construction permits for protected areas in exchange for money, helping foreigners obtain Turkish citizenship with falsified documentation, involvement in export fraud, forging documents and smuggling gold. There are also claims that the suspects illegally sold historical artifacts that were unearthed during excavations for the Marmaray underwater rail project that connects Europe and Asia.

Five suspects taken into custody as part of the graft operation have been released pending trial.

Reports have emerged that construction mogul Ali AÄŸaoÄŸlu is among those who were released. However, AÄŸaoÄŸlu's lawyer, Adnan Kılıç, spoke to the media and said his client had delivered his statement of defense at the prosecutor's office and that they were awaiting his release. “We are waiting. The legal process is ongoing. His defense testimony did not last long. There is a court decision to protect the privacy of the investigation, so it would not be right for me to speak more about the [legal] process,” he told reporters.

A group of AÄŸaoÄŸlu's relatives clashed with security guards outside of the ÇaÄŸlayan Courthouse on Friday afternoon. The relatives, wearing coats that read “AÄŸaoÄŸlu,” attacked the security guards after the guards asked them to leave the area. The group dispersed after police arrived to assist the guards.

Later on Friday, 14 suspects, including the sons of two ministers, businessman Reza Zerrab and Halkbank General Manager Süleyman Arslan, were referred to the court for arrest.

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