Jan 04 2018

Turkey removes Istanbul district mayor from office

Turkey’s Interior Ministry on Thursday removed from office an Istanbul district mayor representing the secularist main opposition on charges of belonging to a banned Islamist group that is accused of carrying out the failed 2016 coup.

A rights group said last month that 94 elected mayors had been removed from office by the government using state of emergency powers imposed after the coup. The government blames the attempted putsch on followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher, Fethullah Gülen. It calls the group the Fethullahist Terror Organisation (FETÖ).

The ministry said it had dismissed Murat Hazinedar, the mayor of Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district for the Republican People’s Party (CHP), for FETÖ membership and said two more CHP council members, Hüseyin Avni Sipahi and Çetin Kırışgil, had also been dismissed on the same charge.

Hazinedar is also charged with extortion, embezzlement and misconduct, the Ministry of Interior’s statement said, Sipahi and Kırışgil were charged will conspiring to make illegal money transfers and forcing businessmen to make donations.

The pro-government newspaper Akşam ran a front-page story on Hazinedar, accusing him of being a Gülen follower.

Another CHP Istanbul district mayor, Ataşehir’s Battal İlgezdi, was also removed from office last month.

The number of elected mayors removed by the government under the state of emergency reached 94, a pro-democracy organisation has stated last week.