Turkish officials step down over corruption probe

Turkey’s interior minister and economy minister both stepped down Wednesday in connection with a high-level corruption scandal

The sons of Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan and Interior Minister Muammer Guler are among 24 people arrested last week on graft charges in a case involving the state-run lender Halkbank.

On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned his rivals he will go after them and, in his words, “break their hands” if they use a widening graft scandal to undermine his rule. As he made his comments, throngs of angry protesters gathered in the city’s Kadikoy Square to call for the resignation of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party government.

The prime minister has responded to the Halkbank probe with a purge in the police force, dismissing police officials for cooperating with the investigation without permission.

Ambitious urban development projects led by Erdogan, a former Istanbul mayor, were one cause of massive anti-government protests in June sparked by a police crackdown on a peaceful sit-in against plans to demolish a park in Istanbul.

At least six people died and 8,000 were hurt in three weeks of nationwide demonstrations against Erdogan’s government.

Source: VOANews.com

(Photo: Guler, right, at the signing with the EU of the Turkey-EU readmission agreement)