Turkish minister defends police, targets opposition in Mafia spat

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, responding to allegations that the government has bowed to the power of the Mafia, attacked the country’s main opposition party for becoming a political mafia.

“If you ask how we broke the Mafia in Turkey, I can tell you. But one thing we feel desperate about is the political mafia that despite losing every election, still haunts Turkish politics,” Soylu said in a Twitter post on Sunday.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican Peoples' Party (CHP), last week accused the government of surrendering to mafia circles, blaming Soylu for watching on as fights broke out between their leaders.

Political tensions between the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its rivals have intensified following a police raid on the home of mafia kingpin Sedat Peker last month and the release of several videos by Peker.

Peker, who reportedly left Turkey last year, released the videos on social media last week, outlining alleged ties between the state and the Mafia.

Kılıçdaroğlu is engaging in politics via a crime organisation’s leaders’ slanders and unbelievable accusations against the Turkish security forces, Soylu said in a Twitter post on Sunday.

“This is helplessness and rottenness,” Soylu said.

Peker, 49, is known for his far-right views and support for the AKP and its political ally, the ultra-right Nationalist Movement Party (AKP).

In a latest video on Saturday, Peker said he ordered the beating of a member of parliament after the person insulted Erdoğan.

In previous videos, Peker made a series of allegations against former interior minister Mehmet Ağar and his son, Tolga Ağar, a member of parliament for the AKP.

Peker said a woman who accused Tolga of rape was taken away by helicopter after reporting the crime to the gendarmerie before later being found dead. “Everyone knows, but no-one speaks up,” he said.

The Mafia boss said Mehmet Ağar, an ex-police chief who was embroiled in a scandal over state-Mafia relations in the 1990s, and his supporters were behind the police operation against him. He vowed revenge.

Peker’s villa in İstanbul’s Beyköz district was raided early on April 9, but police failed to detain him. He was last reported to be in Dubai. Forty-nine of Peker’s alleged associates have been detained.

Peker said Erdoğan had provided him assurances that he would not raid people’s homes after midnight, but 50 police had shown up at his doorstep under Ağar’s directives.