Jailed former police chief not allowed to attend father’s funeral

Imprisoned former police chief Yakup Saygılı, who led corruption operations in 2013 that implicated then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle, was not allowed to attend his father’s funeral, Bold Medya reported.

Saygılı’s father, Rasim Saygılı, 83, died of lung cancer in a hospital in İzmir on Saturday morning.

Saygılı’s request to attend his father’s funeral was denied by the prison administration without explanation.

Saygılı was among former police chiefs involved in the 2013 corruption probes who were sentenced to aggravated life on conviction of attempting to overthrow the government.

Saygılı is incarcerated in İstanbul’s Marmara Prison, where mostly political prisoners are jailed.

The December 17-25 bribery and corruption investigations in connection with state-owned Halkbank shook the country back in 2013. The probe implicated, among others, the family members of four cabinet ministers as well as the children of then-prime minister Erdoğan.

Despite the scandal resulting in the resignation of the cabinet members, the investigation was dropped after prosecutors and police chiefs were removed from the case. Erdoğan, officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the pro-government media described the investigations as an attempt to overthrow the government.

Dismissing the investigations as a conspiracy against his government by the Gülen movement, a group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, Erdoğan designated the faith-based movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members.

He locked up thousands, including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation.

Some of the claims that were part of the corruption investigations were later substantiated in New York federal court where former Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla was sentenced to 32 months for conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran and other offenses.

Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

The Turkish government removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt. In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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