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Court releases police chief arrested for alleged theft of Feb. 6 earthquake aid

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A Turkish court has released a police chief who was arrested for allegedly stealing assistance intended for survivors of earthquakes that devastated southeastern Turkey in February, the private DHA news agency reported on Thursday.

Two earthquakes, with magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5, struck Turkey on Feb. 6, resulting in the death of over 50,000 people and rendering millions homeless across 11 provinces in the country’s south and southeast. The earthquakes also caused approximately $100 billion in damages.

DHA had previously reported that Yadigar Işık, from the Tekirdağ police department, was arrested for allegedly stealing relief items made available to survivors in the İslahiye district of Gaziantep, one of the provinces affected by the quakes.

Also the officer in charge of riot police ordered to take part in relief efforts in the district, Işık allegedly loaded some aid items on a bus used by the government to deliver the items and brought them to his house in Tekirdağ when he returned home on Feb. 26.

Işık was initially detained upon a tip-off. Among the items found in the police chief’s house as a result of a search ordered by the Tekirdağ Public Prosecutor’s Office were generators, tents, air mattresses, sleeping bags, travel bags, boots, raincoats, dog food and electric space heaters.

After his detention, Işık was referred to the prosecutor’s office, which demanded his arrest. The court, however, released him and placed him under judicial supervision. The prosecutor’s office then appealed the decision, and the officer was arrested by the court on March 6.

He was facing a prison sentence ranging from five to 12 years for “embezzlement” in a trial heard by the Tekirdağ 1st High Criminal Court.

At the second hearing of the trial held on Friday, attended by Işık, his lawyer and witnesses, the panel of judges reached a unanimous decision to release the police chief, according to DHA. The trial has been adjourned until Jan. 26, 2024.

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