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Erdogan's son ready to testify over graft probe

January 24, 2014
Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son was ready to give testimony to prosecutors, his lawyer said, in a probe that had been stalled after police allegedly refused to bring him for questioning on prosecutors' orders.

Erdogan last month dismissed four government ministers implicated in a corruption and bribery scandal. He then quickly moved to replace police officials involved in the investigation — an action which news reports said thwarted a second corruption probe which sought to question his son, Bilal Erdogan, and other people.

Erdogan insists the corruption scandal has been orchestrated by an Islamic movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan says Gulen's followers have risen to key positions in Turkey's judiciary and police, and that they want to harm the government ahead of local elections in March.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the probe but hundreds of police officials, prosecutors and judges — either directly involved in the investigations or believed to sympathize with the religious movement — have been removed from posts and reassigned to other positions.

The state-run Anadolu Agency quoted lawyer Ahmet Ozel as saying late Thursday that 33-year old Bilal Erdogan was prepared to give testimony but he had not received any papers summoning him to testify.

"My client is ready to go and testify to prosecutors upon reception of an official notification," Anadolu quoted Ozel as saying.

The statement came following a brawl in parliament where opposition legislators accused the prime minister of obstructing the investigation and of "harboring" a man wanted for questioning. An opposition deputy was briefly hospitalized after being punched by a legislator from Erdogan's party.

Turkish newspapers last month published details of an allegedly leaked prosecutors' summons calling Bilal Erdogan to give testimony as a "suspect" in an investigation into an alleged organized crime syndicate. Newspaper reports said the investigation allegedly surrounds irregularities in the operations of an educational foundation whose board members include Bilal Erdogan.

The prosecutor who issued the summons complained last month that police officers had not carried out his orders for arrests and accused the Istanbul chief prosecutor and police of hampering the probe. He was later removed from the case.



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