(Adds details, background)
ISTANBUL May 2 Turkish prosecutors dismissed a
case against 60 suspects, among them a former minister's son and
a construction tycoon, in the graft scandal swirling around
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's inner circle, media said on
The case, concerning the alleged award of illegal permits in
building projects, was the less important of two dossiers in the
scandal, which broke into the open on Dec. 17 when three
ministers' sons and businessmen were detained in police raids.
Erdogan, who has cast the investigations as part of a plot
to unseat him by a U.S.-based Islamic cleric, has so far
weathered the fallout, with his ruling AK Party dominating
nationwide local elections on March 30.
The case was dropped against Abdullah Oguz Bayraktar, son of
former Environment and Town Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar,
and prominent businessman Ali Agaoglu, along with 58 other
suspects, Dogan news agency and other media outlets reported.
Court officials could not immediately confirm the decision.
The primary investigation is continuing into allegations of
bribes paid to top Turkish officials by a criminal gang helping
Iran to exploit a loophole in the West's sanctions regime
against the Islamic republic. Using the loophole, Iran was able
for a time to purchase gold with oil and gas revenues.
The Iran gold case has been the main focus of interest in
the graft scandal, given the international dimension and the
broader accusations of corruption against three former ministers
and the head of a public bank. Those accused have denied
Erdogan accuses cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the
corruption investigations through extensive influence within the
judiciary and police force. Gulen denies the accusation.
The government hit back at the probes by dismissing or
reassigning thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges
and prosecutors and by passing a law increasing government
control of the judiciary.
Those questioned in the initial sweep in the building case
included the mayor of Istanbul's Fatih municipality, which
includes the city's historic peninsula, and Murat Kurum, the
general manager of real estate firm Emlak Konut GYO,
partly owned by state housing developer TOKI.
All were later released. Agaoglu's company said at the time
no criminal evidence had been found. Emlak Konut said days later
Kurum had returned to work.
(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Sonya