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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 10:04am

Turkey purges police force

Turkey purges police force
CNN
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 9:51am

 -- In what appears to be a broader government purge of Turkey's police force, 350 police officers were removed from their positions in the capital of Ankara on Tuesday.

According to Turkish state media reports, most of the police officers affected were working in departments that battle terrorism, smuggling and organized crime.

"The majority of the chiefs and police in question were appointed to the traffic unit," state broadcaster TRT reported on its website.

The mass reassignment of police officers came amid reports of a fresh wave of police raids targeting suspects in a corruption case in the port city of Izmir.

The Turkish government first began firing and reassigning scores of police officers last month, after police detained dozens of suspects closely linked to the government in an anti-corruption investigation.

Police reportedly found large amounts of cash and a money counting machine in the home of the son of the interior minister, as well as shoe boxes full of cash in the residence of the director of the state-owned HalkBank.

On December 25, at least four Cabinet ministers implicated in the corruption scandal were forced to resign as part of a larger Cabinet reshuffle.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the investigation. He has repeatedly said it is part of an "international conspiracy" aimed at toppling his government. Erdogan also criticized police who carried out the raids, accusing them of operating outside the chain of command.

The government removed several prosecutors overseeing the investigation and briefly banned journalists from entering police stations.

In a highly unusual news conference last month, one of those prosecutors accused the government of obstructing the investigation and allowing suspects to flee and tamper with evidence.

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