Erdogan issues arrest warrant for Turkish mafia leader

Sedat Peker's accusations have shaken the pillars of the Turkish president's inner circle
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AFP/OZAN KOSE  -   A photograph taken on 26 May 2021 in Istanbul shows Sedat Peker speaking on his youtube channel on a mobile phone

Turkish mafia leader Sedat Peker has released new videos implicating deputies of Erdogan's AKP party in his criminal network, threatening to tarnish the image of a government already struggling with economic problems and a new outbreak of COVID-19.  The arrest warrant has been issued following a request from the Ankara Prosecutor's Office.

The leader of a convicted criminal gang, Sedat Peker, who has a large social media following, last week released the sixth in a series of YouTube videos in which Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has been implicated. Peker was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2007 for mafia offences and is currently living in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, as the country does not have an extradition treaty with Ankara. For the past few weeks millions of Turks have been glued to their screens, watching a crime boss tell stories about international drug smuggling, assassinations and murky links between politicians and the Turkish mafia.

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PHOTO/REUTERS - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu filed a criminal complaint against Peker last week. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan backed the interior minister, vowed to prosecute Peker and pledged to fight organised crime. He insisted that he will not allow mafia bosses to threaten "the atmosphere of peace and security in the country". But some believe that if the president wants to convince his electoral base, he needs to speak out more, otherwise these accusations could damage his party's support.

Turkish police arrested Alilla Peker, Sedat Peker's brother, and a bodyguard at a villa near the Aegean coastal town of Fethiye last weekend and seized an unlicensed pistol, reports Turkey's Anadolu Agency. After Atilla Peker's arrest became known, Sedat reacted on Twitter: "Why don't you arrest Korkut Eken and Mehmet Agar, but only my brother?".

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PHOTO/REUTERS - Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu

The mobster claimed in a video that he himself sent Atilla together with Korkut in 1996 to kill Turkish Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adali on behalf of the then Justice Minister Mehmet Agar, although the crime was later delegated to a local group. He also took the opportunity to point out that the new Colombian cocaine route would not pass through the Dominican Republic but through Panama, rectifying what he had said in a video on the same day and apologising to the Dominican government and people for the "lapse".

Meanwhile, former prime minister Binali Yildirim rejected Peker's accusations linking his son Erkan, a shipping company owner, to Colombian cocaine trafficking. He said his son travelled to Venezuela in December, not January, and that the reason for his trip was the distribution of sanitary materials such as masks and test kits. "Nobody can link us to drug trafficking," he said.