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Turkey

Turkish prosecutor piles pressure on Erdogan

A Turkish prosecutor has said that he was being stopped from expanding a corruption investigation that has touched the heart of the government, alleging pressure on the judiciary.

Blunted Turkish probe

"All my colleagues and the public should be aware that I, as public prosecutor, have been prevented from launching an investigation," Muammer Akkas said in a statement on Thursday.

A high-level bribery and corruption investigation ensnaring former ministers and top businessmen prompted a cabinet reshuffle Wednesday by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after three ministers stepped down.

The prosecutor's statement comes a day after Akkas reportedly ordered the detention of 30 more suspects including ruling party lawmakers and businessmen.

"Despite a meeting with the (Istanbul) police chiefs who would oversee the operation at the court building, I found out that the court order and the detention decision had not been implemented," Akkas said.

Akkas also claimed that the police chiefs committed an offence by disobeying the court orders, which he said paved the way for suspects to "take precautions, flee and black out [get rid of] evidence."

Shadowy cabal

Despite the reshuffle and resignations, Erdogan remained defiant in the face of the graft allegations, which he claims are being advanced by a shadowy international cabal. He has already ordered the sacking of dozens of police officers involved in the probe.

The new interior minister, Efkan Ala, will be in charge of Turkey's domestic security and is considered especially close to Erdogan, who called the secretive investigation a foreign-orchestrated plot without legal merit and responded by sacking or reassigning roughly 70 of the police officers involved.

Most analysts agree that Erdogan has been weakened by the continuing accusations. The outgoing environment minister, Erdogan Bayraktar told NTV television he had been pressured to quit, and stated: "I believe the prime minister should also resign."

Istanbul chief public prosecutor Turan Colakkadi, at the centre of Akkas's criticism, hit back at the charges and said that prosecutors were not mandated to launch "random investigations."

On Thursday, the Turkish lira dived to a new record low on the developments. The Istanbul stock market has also taken a beating.

bk/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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