Number of bodyguards protecting graft prosecutor Öz reduced

January 09, 2014, Thursday/ 17:05:00

After the Interior Ministry on Wednesday took back the armored vehicle previously allocated for prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, who was leading one branch of a far-reaching corruption investigation that led to resignations of three ministers, the number of bodyguards assigned to the prosecutor was also reduced from seven to four, leading to concerns over Öz's safety.

The decision came after the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) launched a sweeping investigation into prosecutors on the corruption case, including Öz, over allegations of misconduct during the graft investigation.

On Tuesday, Öz was removed from the graft probe and reassigned to a position at the Bakırköy Courthouse in İstanbul.

The 1st Chamber of the HSYK reached a surprise decision by reassigning the prosecutor amid the ongoing graft investigation that has shaken roots of the government and clouded the political future of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The board's decision came only hours after the HSYK launched an investigation into Öz over claims that the prosecutor had taken a lavish vacation to Dubai with seven of his friends, with the bill allegedly paid by a construction company.

However, Öz strongly refuted these allegations in a detailed written statement on Wednesday.

In the meantime, the İstanbul Police Department has denied reports of a reduction in the number of bodyguards protecting Öz, saying that the department has only reshuffled the personnel responsible for the security of the prosecutor.

The police said in a written statement that the number of personnel tasked with protecting Öz is still the same, seven, and the news reports regarding the reduction in the number of bodyguards are baseless and wrong.

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