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Ministry launches probe into former district mayor in Ankara for irregular election spending

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Turkey’s Interior Ministry has initiated an investigation into a former Ankara district mayor from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on accusations that he used municipal funds for his campaign for mayor of Ankara in the March 31 local elections, according to a report on the T24 news website.

Turgut Altınok, the former mayor of Ankara’s Keçiören district, is being investigated for paying for gas for AKP campaign vehicles from the municipal budget. The municipality is said to have suffered a financial loss of TL 6 million ($184,000) due to the purchase of gas for the AKP vehicles.

Altınok, who ran against Mansur Yavaş of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for mayor of Ankara, was defeated when Yavaş held onto his seat by a stunning 28-point difference, garnering 60.4 percent of the vote on March 31.

According to T24, an interior ministry inspector has suspended a municipal executive responsible for cleaning and transportation services, while hearing statements from several other city executives about claims of irregular spending at the municipality.

The investigation into Altınok was initiated following a complaint by the district’s new mayor, Mesut Özarslan, who won on March 31 in the AKP stronghold.

After assuming office, Özarslan launched an examination into Altınok’s term at the municipality to find possible irregularities. The former mayor is also accused of using municipal resources for his political PR campaign.

It is rare for AKP mayors in Turkey to face such investigations although opposition mayors have accused dozens of them of irregularities and corruption after replacing them in the elections.

Massive wealth

Altınok had raised eyebrows with his asset declaration before the elections, once again bringing to public attention the vast wealth of members of his party that has long been overshadowed by allegations of corruption.

He disclosed ownership of numerous plots of land, residential properties and a significant stake in a family-owned real estate company in his declaration. The disclosure, which includes ownership of some 60 properties and no mention of bank accounts or movable assets, sparked a flood of reactions on social media and from the public.

His holdings, which some described as reminiscent of a small feudal estate, have provoked reactions ranging from disbelief to outrage, highlighting the disparity between the lives of Turkey’s political elite and the general populace grappling with financial problems.

Altınok was the mayor of Keçiören from 1994 to 2009 and was re-elected in 2019 after a 10-year hiatus.

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