January 16, 2014 - 22:15 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkey's government removed a series of high-profile prosecutors on Thursday, Jan 16, stepping up a purge of a judiciary Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan considers embroiled in a plot to undermine him with specious corruption allegations, according to Reuters.
The actions hit at the heart of investigations made public on December 17 that have pitched Erdogan into one of the biggest crises of his 11 years in power. They came a day after the government tightened its grip on a panel that controls the appointment of all judges and prosecutors.
Among those removed were the deputy chief prosecutor in the Aegean city of Izmir, where arrests in the graft inquiry were made last week, and a judge in the eastern city of Van, where police launched raids this week against al Qaeda suspects in what Erdogan backers saw as a bid to embarrass the government.
Erdogan has cast a huge graft inquiry, which has led to the resignation of three ministers and detention of businessmen close to the government, as an attempt by a U.S.-based cleric with influence in police and judiciary to unseat him.
The chief prosecutor and five of his deputies in Istanbul, where the corruption inquiry has been based, were also among 20 people reassigned in the shake-up, the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), headed by the justice minister, said.
There were signs officials appointed to replace those sacked since December were moving to wind down the operation.
The Radikal newspaper said arrest warrants for 45 people, including the prime minister's son, had been lifted by the new prosecutors and that they would instead be invited to make statements.