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28 employees at opposition-run municipality detained over alleged rigging of public tenders

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Twenty-eight employees at an opposition-run district municipality in İstanbul have been detained in two separate investigations for allegedly rigging public tenders, the Demirören News Agency (DHA) reported on Friday.

The employees at the Ataşehir district municipality were taken into custody as part of two investigations launched by the İstanbul Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, DHA said, adding that Mayor Battal İlgezdi was also a suspect.

In December 2017 the Turkish Interior Ministry temporarily dismissed İlgezdi from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) from his post over corruption allegations. Although İlgezdi was originally suspended for two months, this period was later extended. He was elected Ataşehir district mayor in the 2019 elections and acquitted of misconduct the same year.

Rights groups and dissidents regularly accuse President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of using the judiciary as a political tool, particularly after thousands of judges were purged in the wake of an attempted coup in 2016.

Prominent figures from the CHP, including its leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, İstanbul branch chairperson Canan Kaftancıoğlu and İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, have been the subject of frequent judicial harassment on charges that include insulting Erdoğan and other public officials.

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