ANKARA, Turkey, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- The removal of dozens of top Turkish police officials leading an inquiry into graft and corruption has raised fears of a government cover-up, officials say.
The dismissals came after 52 people, including well-known business people and the sons of three government ministers, were detained as part of the investigation, Today's Zaman reported Wednesday.
Officials removed from the investigation included two deputies to the Istanbul police chief, two deputy directors of the organized crime unit and two deputy directors of the financial crime unit.
Five police chiefs at the director level also were fired.
The order for their firing reportedly came from Istanbul Police Chief Huseyn Capkin.
In Ankara, the heads of the organized crime, anti-smuggling and financial crimes units were among 18 police chiefs removed for not informing their superiors and for using their offices for "ill-intentions."
The Security General Directorate said in a statement the officials had been removed because they "abused their power."
Haluk Koc, a spokesman for the Republican People's Party, charged at a press conference Wednesday afternoon the government was attempting to cover up allegations of graft.
"The ministers [whose sons were detained] should have resigned from their posts," Koc said. "The fact that the ministers did not resign [and] that police officials were removed hints that the government is working to cover up the investigation."
Ahmet Gundel, a retired prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, called the situation "worrisome," saying removal of the police chiefs had created the perception the government believes the investigation was aimed at top government leaders.
"Police chiefs are tasked with fulfilling the duties given to them by prosecutors involved in the investigation," he said. "It is not possible to understand why police chiefs who were fulfilling their duties have been removed."
The police investigation began a year ago.