Istanbul police chief removed over graft inquiry: local media

ISTANBUL Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:42am EST

Istanbul police chief Huseyin Capkin (Front) leaves the police headquarters in Istanbul December 18, 2013. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Istanbul police chief Huseyin Capkin (Front) leaves the police headquarters in Istanbul December 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Osman Orsal

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Istanbul's police chief has been removed from his post, local media reported on Thursday, two days after the sons of cabinet ministers and prominent businessmen close to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan were detained in a corruption probe.

The sacking, along with other dismissals in the police force and detentions and raids in recent days, reflects a growing power struggle engulfing the ruling elite of a NATO country dominated by Erdogan for over a decade.

Huseyin Capkin, the chief of police of Turkey's commercial capital, had been at his post since June 2009, except for a 16-day spell as governor of an eastern province in May 2010.

Police declined to comment.

Dozens of senior police officers in Istanbul and the capital Ankara were sacked on Wednesday.

Scores of people including the sons of three cabinet ministers and several well-known businessmen have been detained in the biggest corruption investigation that Turkey has seen since Erdogan came to power in 2002.

Of the 52 detained, ten have been released, local media said.

Erdogan denounced the raids and detentions as a "dirty operation" to smear his administration only months ahead of local elections critics view as a test of his authority.

(Writing by Ece Toksabay, Editing by Humeyra Pamuk and Ralph Boulton)

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