Turkish kingpin Sedat Peker has claimed to have links to the Turkish government

The alleged connection between Erdogan's party and the Turkish mafia

PHOTO/REUTERS - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a press conference in Istanbul.

Turkish mafia leader Sedat Peker has released several videos implicating deputies of Erdogan's AKP party in his criminal network, as reported by Arab News. Peker was convicted in 2007 of running a criminal organisation, theft and forgery, among other charges. The country's judiciary sentenced him to 14 years in prison, but he was acquitted in 2014. Peker has also expressed his ultra-nationalist political views on several occasions. In early 2021 he was arrested again in North Macedonia on a false passport, and subsequently deported to Kosovo. He is currently believed to be living in Dubai, according to media outlets such as Arab News and BBC Turkey.

The Turkish kingpin has accused former Interior Minister Mehmet Agar and his son, AKP MP Tolga Agar, of involvement in the death of a 21-year-old Kazakh journalist, Yedana Kaharman. As Arab News reports, the Kaharman case was soon closed on the orders of local prosecutors.

In his videos, Peker has also accused the current interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, of corrupt behaviour. The minister has responded to Peker's statements by urging him to return to his country to "submit to justice". Soylu also described him as "mafia scum" and accused him of running away "like a rat". Cemil Cicek, a former justice minister and current member of the Turkish presidency's top board, has demanded an investigation into Peker's statements. Cicek called on the public prosecutor's office to "do whatever is necessary".

Atalayar_Süleyman Soylu

Opposition parties have demanded explanations from the government for this new scandal involving Erdogan's party. Ozgur Ozel, a member of parliament for the opposition CHP party, claimed that Minister Soylu is the point of connection between the AKP, its ally, the far-right MHP, and the mafia. Ozel also alluded to the links between Soylu and Peker, recalling when the government failed to act over Peker's illegal actions in the city of Rize. The criminal leader threatened dissident Turkish academics that he would make them weep with "their own blood".

Other political parties have also denounced Peker and pointed to the government's indifference to his actions. Baris Atay of the Workers' Party accused the kingpin of using street gangs to attack political dissidents. In response to these statements, Atay was beaten up on Peker's orders.

"Turkey should launch a nationwide campaign against the deep state and the widespread mafia structure that reaches into the inner circles of the state", Ayhan Sefer Ustun told Arab News. Ustun is a former head of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission and founder of the Future Party. The Turkish politician has also called for a "commission of enquiry" into Peker's statements. Ustun alluded to the Susurluk scandal, comparing it to the current controversy. This case took place in 1996 and revealed political links with the mafia in the province of Balikesir, thanks to the insistence of public opinion.

Atalayar_Kemal Kilicdaroglu

The Turkish government passed a controversial amnesty law in 2021 that freed 90,000 prisoners for non-political crimes, excluding journalists and political dissidents. Organised gang leaders, such as Alaattin Cakidi, a notorious mafia boss, were released. Cakidi is linked to the far-right MHP party, an ally of the AKP.

This is not the first scandal to affect the AKP. Last April, opposition politicians accused the government of corruption after millions of dollars went missing from the Turkish Central Bank. In March a video surfaced of a deputy from Erdogan's party snorting cocaine, who later admitted to being a user and trafficker