Some 15 lawmakers from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have expressed uneasiness to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over scandalous allegations made by a crime boss about the country’s interior minister, saying his parliamentary immunity should be revoked, according to a journalist.
Sedat Peker, the head of one of Turkey’s most powerful mafia groups and once a staunch supporter of Erdoğan, has since early May been setting the country’s political agenda through videos he posts on YouTube. Having fled to Dubai, the mafia boss has been making shocking revelations about state-mafia relations, drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials and their family members.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has so far been Peker’s main target, primarily because he ordered a police raid on the gangster’s house in April when his wife and three children were home alone and because he called Peker “a dirty mafia leader” in a tweet.
Peker has claimed that it was connections to his family that had helped Soylu rise through the ranks of the right-wing True Path Party (DYP) before he joined the AKP in 2012 at the invitation of Erdoğan. He also claimed that Soylu helped him avoid police prosecution by notifying him that an investigation was being prepared against him, before he fled Turkey in early 2020. The mob boss further said Soylu did not cancel the police protection afforded him before the beginning of Soylu’s term in office in August 2016.
In countering Peker’s allegations, Soylu pointed to a former interior minister and security officials as responsible for the provision of police protection for Peker, which led to resentment among some AKP lawmakers who previously worked for the Turkish police force.
According to journalist Barış Yarkadaş from the Korkusuz newspaper, two AKP deputies, former Interior Minister Efkan Ala and Selami Altınok, a former İstanbul police chief, were particularly disturbed about Soylu’s statements and talked to senior party officials to convince them to go to Erdoğan to complain about Soylu.
These AKP lawmakers allegedly told Erdoğan if Soylu has any documents proving any AKP member’s relationship to the mafia, he should submit them to the judicial authorities. They also said Soylu’s immunity should be revoked so that the allegations raised by Peker can be investigated.
Yarkadaş did not say anything about Erdoğan’s reaction. However, following a long silence, Erdoğan in late May announced his support for Soylu in the wake of Peker’s allegations targeting him.
“We have always been at the side of our interior minister in his fight against criminal gangs and terrorist organizations, and we will continue to be there,” Erdoğan said at a party meeting back then.