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Former Turkish general helped smuggle people into Turkey in his official car, journalist claims

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A former Turkish general used his official car to smuggle people from Syria into Turkey, according to a journalist citing anonymous military sources.

Barış Terkoğlu of the Cumhuriyet daily reported that authorities recently ordered the search of a car that would be exempt from routine checks.

They discovered that the vehicle was the official car of former brigadier general B.Ç. and was being used to smuggle people across the border in exchange for money. The general’s adjutant and bodyguard, who were involved in the operation, were arrested.

Terkoğlu’s attempts to reach the deputy minister of defense for an official statement were unsuccessful.

Other ministry sources confirmed that B.Ç. is under investigation and was forced to retire.

The adjutant and bodyguard are under criminal investigation and were dismissed from the army, Terkoğlu wrote.

According to Terkoğlu’s sources, this incident is not an isolated case. Similar cases, particularly involving lower-ranking officers, have been uncovered.

Speaking to Terkoğlu, retired colonel Orkun Özeller, a former commander of İncirlik Air Base, confirmed that he had received credible reports of human smuggling by army personnel from various sources.

Turkey has established direct control over swaths of land in northern Syria through successive offensives against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) since 2018. The YPG, a Syrian Kurdish armed group that played a crucial role in the coalition task force set up to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is viewed by Ankara as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and thus a terrorist organization.

Rights groups and organizations that monitor the region have since accused Turkish soldiers and Turkish-backed rebels of committing war crimes against the local population during cross-border offensives.

Turkey has dropped to 115th place out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2023, reaching its lowest score in a decade with 34 out of 100 points.

The decline is attributed to the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, weakened democratic safeguards and inadequate anti-corruption measures.

The erosion of judicial independence and the rule of law in the country, particularly following an attempted coup in 2016, has further increased the perception of systemic corruption.

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