Turkey – where the mafia speaks and the gov’t remains silent

Convicted Turkish crime boss Sedat Peker on Sunday dropped his fifth video in two weeks, in which he continues to threaten government officials – past and present – and details the inner workings of ties between the state and organised crime.

 

 

In his latest tell-all recording, the 49-year-old mob boss again directly targets Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who has gone on record to label Peker as a ‘’pawn’’ while filing a lawsuit against the criminal organization leader over his claims that he personally warned Peker to leave the country.

Soylu, for his part, has denied any connection to Peker, saying that should the mob boss prove any link between the pair, he would be ready for any punishment, including a death sentence before the people of Turkey.

Peker responded by posting photos of Soylu serving as a witness at his relative’s wedding and in Sunday’s video said he would continue to ‘’hurt’’ the interior minister on a weekly basis.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s opposition parties have called on the country’s chief public prosecutors to take legal action against the claims made by Peker, that include the government either turning a blind eye to or being complicit in cocaine trade, seizure of property and squatting on yacht marinas worth billions of dollars, rape and cooperation with the Russian mob.

What is possibly the most surprising part of this ongoing spat is the response of the ruling AKP and its junior coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). For the most part, the official response has been tepid, bordering on evasive. 

This is all the more confounding given that Peker has now pointed the finger at elites like Soylu, former Interior Minister and Justice Minister Mehmet Ağar, Ağar’s son Tolga Ağar, who is an AKP deputy, and former Finance Minister and Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak.

So far, the government has chosen to reject any charge from the opposition by dismissing it all as politicised. Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Ömer Çelik have, in return, accused the opposition of conducting ‘’dirty politics’’over the claims of an organized mob boss.

Çelik earlier this week urged anyone with documents proving Peker’s allegations to take legal action, but already evidence exists pointing to connections between government officials and Peker. After Çelik called for proof of Peker’s claims, CHP deputy Ali Mahir Başarır posted a document on Twitter, revealing that Peker was given police protection by the Istanbul Governor’s Office in 2015 following a speech in which he threatened the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

Moreover, it has become evident that Peker’s police protection was extended for another year, eight months before he fled Turkey in early 2020.

Peker accuses the Soylu of creating a divide between himself and Albayrak, yet nobody from the government is actually questioning the link between an organized crime leader and high ranking members of the government. 

While all this is happening, Turkish police and public prosecutors, who are quicker to act against 280 character tweets that offend the state, appear to have no desire to move a finger over the claims made by Peker.

Top Erdoğan aide Fahrettin Altun, who is quick to respond to just about any item on the agenda, has yet to issue any remark over Peker’s extensive claims.

Almost ironically, the official response has been muted in comparison to rejections of Peker’s claims by other members of the Turkish underworld.

A reply to the questions from the opposition arrived from the son of Alaattin Çakıcı, another Turkish mafia leader. Çakıcı’s son hurled threats at opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA)  leader Ali Babacan. 

Meanwhile, Çakıcı issued a statement on Twitter on Friday, praising Erdoğan and his far-right junior coalition partner Devlet Bahçeli, who personally facilitated Çakıcı’s release from prison in April of last year.

 

It was soon after Çakıcı’s release that rival mob boss Peker left the country.

Çakıcı has in the past threatened Kılıçdaroğlu, prompting CHP lawyers to file criminal complaints, but nothing has come out of such initiatives.

Çakıcı in his latest message once again accused Kılıçdaroğlu, along with other opposition leaders, of treachery, asking for votes to be cast in favour of the Erdoğan-Bahçeli alliance in the 2023 elections.  He even promised a significant increase in the per capita income should said alliance win.

Many critics saw Çakıcı’s message as being aimed at Peker, urging him to be quiet. But Peker was quick to refute that theory with his video on Sunday.

Mafia bosses and leaders of crime rings are freely accusing and pointing their fingers at alleged crimes and wrongdoers in a country where the government and its far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), are remaining silent. 

Meanwhile, the opposition is preparing to bring all of these issues to Parliament, which opens this week.

It has become increasingly evident in recent weeks that Turkey has become a country where the mafia is dictating the national agenda.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.