A Turkish court on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for a crime boss who has been shaking the country with bombshell revelations he has been making for the past several weeks about murky relations between the mafia and Turkish state actors, according to local media.
The arrest warrant for Sedat Peker, the head of one of Turkey’s most powerful mafia groups who was once a staunch supporter of President Recepo Tayyip Erdoğan, was issued by an Ankara court upon a request from the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Peker has since early May been setting the country’s political agenda through videos he posts on YouTube. The accusations made by Peker, who fled to Dubai, involving close Erdoğan allies — including a former prime minister, top officials and their relatives — range from corruption and drug trafficking to rape and multiple murders. His videos are watched by millions of people immediately after their release.
The arrest warrant for Peker came one day after Erdoğan, who kept silent about Peker’s allegations for weeks, spoke out on Wednesday and voiced support for Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, one of Peker’s main targets primarily because he ordered a police raid on the gangster’s house in April when his wife and three children were home alone and because he called Peker “a dirty mafia leader” in a tweet.
“We have always been at the side of our interior minister in his fight against criminal gangs and terrorist organizations, and we will continue to be there,” Erdoğan said at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Wednesday.
“We have crushed criminal organizations for 19 years. We follow criminal gang members wherever they flee in the world,” he added.
In the meantime, the state-run Anadolu news agency said Peker was now also suspected of involvement in the activities of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group labeled as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government, which accuses it of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the abortive putsch.
Meanwhile, none of the allegations voiced by Peker has been proven, and those involved have proclaimed their innocence.
But the political scandal sparked by the videos comes at an inopportune time for Erdoğan, who is losing ground in opinion polls because of a depreciating currency and high inflation.