Turkey drops corruption case against 60 people

Prosecutor cites lack of evidence in case involving bribery for construction projects and building permits.

ISTANBUL // Turkish prosecutors on Friday dropped a case against 60 people, including the son of a former minister, in a corruption investigation that rocked the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

An Istanbul prosecutor handling the probe into graft in Turkey’s housing agency TOKI decided not to take the suspects to court, citing “lack of evidence” for his decision.

The suspects who escaped prosecution include Oguz Bayraktar, the son of former environment minister Erdogan Bayraktar, and construction tycoon Ali Agaoglu, the Dogan news agency reported.

They were detained in police raids in mid-December when the corruption scandal first erupted and charged with accepting and facilitating bribes for construction projects and securing construction permits for protected areas.

About 30 other key allies of the prime minister, including the sons of two other cabinet ministers, are still facing charges for a raft offences including corruption, fraud and money laundering. The three ministers have since resigned.

Prime Minister Erdogan has accused supporters of a former ally turned arch-rival, the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, of instigating the investigation to topple his government.

He has retaliated by sacking hundreds of police and prosecutors believed to be linked to Mr Gulen and introducing curbs on the judiciary and the internet.

But his ruling Justice and Development Party managed to emerge relatively unscathed from the scandal, scoring a resounding victory in March 30 local elections, winning 45 per cent of the vote.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: May 3, 2014 04:00 AM

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