Report: Al-Qaeda suspects flee after Turkish gov't blocks raid
A plainclothes police officer reacts as riot police stand guard in front of the courthouse in İstanbul on Dec. 20. (Photo: Reuters, Osman Orsal)
Al-Qaeda-linked Yusuf Al Qadi and Osama Khoutub, who are among the suspects in a major graft probe, have reportedly fled Turkey after the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) blocked a police raid on Wednesday as İstanbul police refused to comply with orders of prosecutors to detain several suspects in the second leg of the investigation
The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office ordered the detention of 30 suspects, including a number of deputies and businessmen. The İstanbul Police Department, which saw an extensive purge of its top officers over the last week, has not complied with the order, however.
News reports suggest that when the list of 30 suspects leaked to media on Wednesday, some of the suspects took precautionary measures to avoid incriminating themselves in the case of a police raid on their homes or offices.
And some suspects fled Turkey, including al-Qaeda Turkey operatives Al Qadi and Khoutub, after government blocked the investigation through newly appointed police chiefs who refused to comply with court decision.
Prosecutor Muammer Akkaş, who was leading the second round of the probe, was removed from the case. “All my colleagues and the public should know that as a public prosecutor I was prevented from carrying out the investigation,” the prosecutor said in a statement on Thursday, adding that pressure had clearly been placed on the judiciary both from the Public Prosecutor's Office and the police, allowing an opportunity for suspects to destroy the evidence.
Akkaş said although he issued detention and search warrants for the suspects and relayed these to the İstanbul Police Department on Wednesday morning, the police department had not complied with his orders.
"By not implementing the court decisions, police chiefs committed a crime. An opportunity was given to suspects to take measures, escape or mitigate the evidence," he said.
Saudi businessman Al Qadi's assests were frozen in Turkey after he was named a financer of terrorism in the international community. News reports point out that the al-Qaeda suspect is allowed to enter Turkey freely and has access to high-level diplomats and security officials, including Undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Hakan Fidan.
According to claims, former Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, who left his post on Wednesday in a major Cabinet reshuffle, asked the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor to close the case.