Former police intelligence chief implicates Turkish Interior Minister
Former head of the intelligence bureau at Turkey's Police Department said in a live TV broadcast on Saturday that a retired police chief affiliated with a major Turkish mafia network asked a police chief in Istanbul a couple of years back to withdraw his report on the network, and told the chief that he would "have the Turkish interior minister remove him from his post in case he did not comply."
In a fresh allegation implicating minister Suleyman Soylu of having links with underworld figures, former police intelligence chief Sabri Uzun told Halk TV:
"In 2017 or 2018, the police chief Mustafa Caliskan in the district of Bakirkoy reported to the city police chief cases of people receiving threats from underworld debt collectors. He informed his superiors of these gangs operating in the district and called for action to be launched by the organized crime bureau. This was followed by a retired police chief, a relative of the Saral family, visiting the district chief. He said to him: 'You've prepared a report about our family. Please withdraw the report. If you don't, I'll call Suleyman and have you removed.'"
"As far as I'm aware, the district chief was removed 10 or 15 days later to be assigned to a post in the Sports Bureau," Uzun added.
He also said that a top Turkish official, who he chose not to identify, summoned Suleyman Soylu upon the removal of the district chief, and said to him: "From now on, you are not to give any instructions to Istanbul Police Department without my consent."
Uzun had earlier also said, right after a deadly bombing in Istanbul which minister Soylu held the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) responsible:
"There is no difference between the massacre that took place near the Ankara Train Station on 10 October 2015, conducted by the Islamic State, and the massacre in Istiklal Street on 13 November 2022.
Turkey: State embedded actors of organized crime
The Saral family was ranked Turkey's fourth largest organized crime network in a police report publicized in March 2021.
According to the report, a Burhanettin Saral commands 247 active members in his network, after Alaaddin Cakici with 428, Sedat Sahin with 257, and Sedat Peker with 253.
An Umit Saral commands a further 102, the report said.
Cakici is a comrade of Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the far right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) that is part of the ruling alliance in Turkey.
Sedat Peker, once a fervent ally of the political administration, went rogue when his conflicts with Cakici forced him out of the country.
Turkey was ranked 6th among 193 United Nations members in the category of "state-embedded actors" in organized crime, in a 2021 report published by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC), an independent civil society organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.