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Turkish mob boss who angered AKP gov’t goes on trial in absentia

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The trial of a notorious Turkish mob boss whose revelations about the shady relations between the country’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and mafia groups have angered the ruling party, began in absentia at an İstanbul court on Wednesday, BBC Turkish service reported.

Mafia boss Sedat Peker, who lives in exile, is among the 92 defendants in the trial, 26 of whom are currently in jail.

Peker faces an aggravated life sentence and an additional sentence of between 262 years and 392 years on various charges including establishing and running a criminal organization, incitement to murder and causing injury by a firearm. Other defendants in the trial face jail sentences of various lengths.

The defendants began to present their defenses at the first hearing of the trial, held at the İstanbul Anatolia 16th High Criminal Court.

Peker has been sending shockwaves across the country since early May through scandalous revelations he has been making on social media about state-mafia relations, drug trafficking and murders implicating former and current state officials and their family members.

Since June the mafia leader has been making his claims on Twitter instead of YouTube since officials in the UAE, where he is currently living, told him not to release any more YouTube videos defaming politicians in another country.

The officials also forbade Peker from posting tweets about Turkish politicians and bureaucrats’ alleged involvement in drug trafficking.

Peker’s claims are wide-ranging. He alleges that former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s son is involved in international drug trafficking; that the government smuggled arms to jihadist groups in Syria through SADAT, a paramilitary organization established by a former adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, by using Peker’s humanitarian aid trucks as a proxy; that Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and his inner circle are blackmailing people with bogus charges of terrorism links; and much more.

The recent rapprochement between Turkey and the UAE sealed by a visit of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan to Ankara in November led to claims that Peker may have to seek another refuge for himself or that he may be extradited to Turkey.

Sheikh Mohammed visited the Turkish capital at the invitation of Erdoğan. The landmark meeting was the highest-level interaction between the two countries in years.

Following a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016, Erdoğan accused the UAE of financing the coup plotters.

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