A police raid on the metropolitan and Karabağlar municipalities in İzmir, both run by the Republican People's Party (CHP), reportedly came after a notice to İzmir police by Ersu Hızır, the former secretary-general of the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality.
On Monday, police searched the offices of the two municipalities and detained 40 people in the wake of claims that both municipalities were engaged in corruption and tender rigging. Police officers seized some documents during the search and detainees were taken in for questioning on corruption and bid rigging claims. The search continued through Tuesday. Ten of the detainees were released after they were interrogated by police.
Some Turkish newspapers claimed that a specially-authorized prosecutor in İzmir decided to carry out the search at the metropolitan and Karabağlar municipalities in İzmir following a notice by Hızır. In his notice, Hızır claimed that the two municipalities were engaged in corruption and tender rigging, and the illegal activities of the municipalities cannot be unknown to İzmir Mayor Aziz Kocaoğlu. An earlier Court of Accounts report suggested that the two municipalities were engaged in corruption costing TL 140 million.
Hızır came to prominence in September of last year when he raised corruption claims about the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality when speaking to a local reporter. "Everything is a mess at the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality. There is corruption there," he reportedly told the reporter. Hızır also told the reporter that municipality companies were engaged in corruption and tender rigging. When his remarks made their way into the press, Hızır was immediately removed from the post of secretary-general of the municipality.
In the wake of Hızır's corruption claims, the Court of Accounts initiated an investigation into the accounts and transactions of the metropolitan and Karabağlar municipalities. As a result of the investigation, the court concluded that the two municipalities were engaged in a corruption costing around TL 140 million. The Court of Accounts forwarded the report it prepared about its investigation to the İzmir 10th High Criminal Court, which assigned a specially-authorized prosecutor to look into the claims of corruption in the municipalities. The prosecutor found that the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality engaged in irregularities in 400 transactions, which cost the state millions of liras.
On Monday İzmir police detained Hızır at the airport as he was about to board a plane to Morocco.
Claims of corruption, tender rigging in İzmir
According to the findings of the prosecutor, the İzmir Fair Services Culture and Art Affairs Trade Inc. (İZFAŞ), a company belonging to the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, was engaged in an invitations and flower purchase tender. The company gave the tender to the company of one of its employees, and the invitations and flowers were never delivered.
The municipality did not hold a tender for its promotion campaign, and instead asked an agency to deal with the promotion activities of the municipality. The municipality later fabricated a report as if a tender had been held. In addition, the construction company of the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, İzbeton, prepared reports for many construction projects it had completed in the province even though it did not. The company, in exchange, received thousands of Turkish liras from the state.
In December 2010, the municipality pretended to purchase 50 tons of mandarins to be distributed to victims of a flood in İzmir the same month. However, the municipality never made such a purchase or distribution, according to the findings of the prosecutor. In February 2011, the municipality prepared a fake report to cover up the corruption. In the report, the municipality claimed that it purchased foulards and shawls worth TL 32,000.
The prosecutor also found that a municipality official transferred TL 300,000 to a political party. The prosecutor did not provide the name of the party.
In the meantime, CHP members flocked to the offices of the metropolitan and Karabağlar municipalities on Monday to protest the police search after Tacettin Bayır, head of the CHP's İzmir branch, sent them Facebook and text messages. In the message, Bayır said: "We will convene in front of the metropolitan municipality building at 4 p.m. today to show support for our mayor."
Aziz Tekin, a CHP member in İzmir, slammed the Facebook and text messages, saying that a show of support for the mayor will not win anything for the main opposition party. He also criticized some CHP officials for putting the blame for the police search of the municipalities on the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. "Why did they make people convene in front of the municipality building? Why did they make Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AK Party targets after the police search?" he asked, and called on the CHP administration to urge supporters of their party in İzmir for common sense.
Municipality workers invade CHP building
A group of subcontracted workers at the Konak Municipality in İzmir invaded the building of the CHP branch in Konak on Tuesday, claiming that they were unjustly fired from their jobs.
The workers locked themselves inside a room in the building and chanted slogans from the windows. The workers were supported by another group of workers who were waiting for their colleagues in the garden of the building. Police officers tried to force their way into the room, but failed to do so after one of the workers threatened to set himself on fire.
Cihan news agencyGüncelleme Tarihi: 03 Mayıs 2011, 17:51