Nine more police officers close to former interior minister Süleyman Soylu have been suspended from duty in Ankara as part of an administrative investigation launched due to their alleged links to a “criminal organization,” the T24 news website reported on Tuesday.
According to T24, the suspension of officers at the Ankara Police Department, with the approval of new interior minister Ali Yerlikaya, has further bolstered the allegations that mobster Ayhan Bora Kaplan’s connections within the police and the judiciary are being investigated.
Kaplan, a mob boss known for his alleged close ties to Soylu, was arrested last month, following which the former minister’s alleged links to mafia groups again came to public attention.
The arrest of Kaplan, who faces charges including “forming a criminal organization,” “intentional injury,” “armed robbery,” “deprivation of liberty” and “torture” and others came amid significant changes within the police force after Soylu was removed from the post of interior minister.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan replaced Soylu with Yerlikaya in the new cabinet he announced in June following his re-election in the presidential election in May.
In early August, the most comprehensive decree on police chiefs to date was published in the Official Gazette, resulting in the reassignment of 52 high-ranking police chiefs, while 24 were moved to less active roles. The reassignment of high-ranking police officers close to Soylu was interpreted as a “partial purge.”
Soylu was elected to parliament in the May general election as a Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker and enjoys parliamentary immunity.
During Soylu’s tenure, Turkey faced allegations of involvement in international drug trafficking, primarily driven by Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker. In a series of dramatic videos in 2021, Peker accused Soylu and other high-ranking officials of protecting and facilitating cocaine trafficking networks.
Soylu was appointed as the interior minister shortly after a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. He was the architect of the massive purge and arrest of thousands of non-loyalist citizens under bogus terrorism or coup charges.