World Bulletin / News Desk
An Ankara court ruled on Tuesday to arrest seven people, including former Çankaya Mayor Muzaffer Eryılmaz, on charges of bribery and rigging municipal tenders.
Eryılmaz and 20 other suspects were detained recently as part of an investigation into corruption, bribery, embezzlement and bid-rigging claims. The suspects were initially interrogated by a prosecutor involved in the investigation and sent to an Ankara court on Tuesday for arrest. The court ruled to arrest Eryılmaz and six others. The remaining suspects were released pending trial.
Eryılmaz came to prominence in 2008 following the emergence of voice recordings allegedly of the mayor confessing to having bribed Republican People's Party (CHP) members on the municipal council to get them to approve various projects when he was in office.
The voice, believed to belong to Eryılmaz, is heard in the recording saying he cannot find any time to work because he is busy bribing CHP members on the council. The person in the recording also confessed to having forced companies to compete in municipal tenders to pay bribes and having financially supported the staunchly secularist Cumhuriyet daily. “We need to pay TL 100,000 to [Cumhuriyet Ankara representative Mustafa] Balbay.
If we cannot find this money, we need to buy newspapers from them. We need to place ads in Cumhuriyet or send articles to be printed,” the voice was heard as saying.
Although Eryılmaz claimed that the recording was a cut-and-paste job, he admitted that the voice belonged to him.
Subsequently, an investigation was launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. Prosecutors investigated the former mayor over offenses of corruption, embezzlement, bid rigging, neglect and abuse of power.