Turkish crime lord unveils deep-rooted corruption in police ranks

Turkish crime lord unveils deep-rooted corruption in police ranks
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Ayhan Bora Kaplan’s 9-hour inquiry with the Ankara Police Department Organized Crime Unit unraveled a web of corruption and malfeasance within the country's police force with alleged ties to former Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu

An arrested Turkish gang leader revealed that he was once demanded to pay a hefty bribe of 250,000 USD by a high-ranking police official, and highlighted an entrenched system of corruption where weekly bribes totalling 30,000 Turkish Liras were routinely extorted from local business owners in the country, DW Turkish reported on Wednesday.

The details emerging from the ongoing interrogation of alleged crime syndicate leader Ayhan Bora Kaplan, who was arrested in an operation in Turkey's capital Ankara, have sent shockwaves through the political landscape. The suspect, rumored to have close ties to former Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, has revealed unsettling details about his relationship with the police during his 9-hour questioning at the Ankara Police Department Organized Crime Unit.

German news outlet DW Turkish has accessed the 137-page statement given by Kaplan during the interrogation, which was also attended by his attorney, Associate Professor Dr. S. Sinan Kocaoglu. Throughout the interrogation, Kaplan responded to every question in detail, making a startling claim towards the end of his statement about alleged bribery demands by the police.

Kaplan claimed that he was introduced to Alp Aslan, whom he knew as the Organized Crime Unit Director at the time, in 2017 while he was operating the Album Bar. According to Kaplan, Aslan demanded a bribe of 250,000 USD in 2018 when Kaplan was running the Gunay restaurant. Kaplan alleged that Aslan threatened to ruin his life with fabricated charges when he refused to pay the bribe.

Furthermore, Kaplan accused patrol officers attached to the Asayis (Public Order) Branch of extorting weekly bribes amounting to 30,000 TRY from a hotel owner in the Gaziosmanpasa district of Ankara. This allegation was also recorded in the interrogation transcript.

The individual at the center of these allegations, Alp Aslan, has held managerial positions in the Ankara Police Department for many years. Following the July 15 coup attempt, Aslan faced trial for alleged negligence in the release of Adil Oksuz but was later acquitted. Aslan's career flourished during Suleyman Soylu's tenure as the Interior Minister, eventually being promoted to Deputy Police Chief in Ankara overseeing Organized and Financial Crimes. This year, he was promoted to first-class Police Chief before being reassigned to a central role as the Chief Inspector of Police following Ali Yerlikaya's appointment as the Interior Minister.

Aslan's name has also been linked to an incident involving the alleged police assault and forced withdrawal of a complaint by Sahin Turgut, the son of Ahmet Turgut, a well-known figure in the criminal underworld known as "Kurt Ahmet". Aslan was alleged to have ordered the assault, and the subsequent destruction of the surveillance footage by the police.

The interrogation transcript suggests that Kaplan used his connections within the police force to intimidate victims into withdrawing their complaints. One such case dating back to July 20, 2016, involves Erkan Dogan, a snack bar owner who claimed to have been abducted and assaulted by Kaplan and his associates.

Dogan recounted a harrowing experience where he was beaten, bound, gagged, and then locked in a car trunk before being taken to an apartment on the 21st floor of Akman Plaza. During his two-day captivity, he was allegedly subjected to torture, including the extraction of four teeth with pliers by Kaplan.

Dogan managed to escape when his captors were distracted, and called the police. However, his ordeal did not end there, as he encountered threats and intimidation when he was taken to the Cankaya District Police Department. Dogan alleges that he was pressured to withdraw his complaint with assurances of safety from unidentified officers. Despite a subsequent attempt to file a complaint at the Ankara Courthouse in 2018, he was unable to achieve justice.

Defending himself against the accusations, Kaplan argued that these allegations stem from his active role against the July 15 coup attempt. He accused Dogan of being affiliated with FETO (Fetullahist Terrorist Organization) and leveling false charges against him.

During the operation targeting Kaplan, the then Cankaya District Police Chief N.A.C and a retired commissioner, who allegedly failed to record Dogan's statement, were also detained but later released after questioning.

Further accusations against Kaplan include orchestrating armed attacks to seize control of entertainment venues in Ankara, using his connections within the police force to suppress potential legal repercussions. Kaplan, however, vehemently denies knowing or assaulting Dogan and rejects the claims of sending a lawyer to convince him to drop the charges.

In another revelation, Kaplan, who refused to take advantage of the "effective remorse" provision during his interrogation, confessed to being convicted of homicide in 2011 and serving over 3 years in prison before being released. While he acknowledged owning a chain of burger joints and a cafe, he refused to answer questions regarding bank accounts and further details about his iPhone.