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Tuesday, June 8, 1999 Published at 23:28 GMT 00:28 UK

World: Europe

Police chief suspended in phone-tap scandal

Military command was among those said to have been tapped

The chief of police in the Turkish capital, Ankara, has been suspended in a growing scandal surrounding allegations that the prime minister and other top politicians had their telephones bugged.

BBC Ankara Correspondent Chris Morris: "The authorities felt it was time to act"
Local media reports say police intelligence officers, apparently acting on their own initiative, tapped phones at the presidency, and at the office of the Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit.

Mr Ecevit himself has called for a thorough investigation of the case. "Those who are responsible must be revealed," Turkeys' Anatolia news agency quotes him as saying.

The military high command and leading journalists and businessmen are also said to have been bugged.

Abusing authority

[ image: Prime Minister Ecevit has called for a thorough investigation]
Prime Minister Ecevit has called for a thorough investigation
Interior Minister Sadettin Tantan said some officers were obviously abusing their authority, but he admitted that there is no clear legal provision about monitoring telecommunication systems.

He said the police chief, Cevdet Saral, and 10 senior colleagues were being suspended as a precaution whilst investigations continue.

Amongst those suspended were Mr Saral's deputy, the head of the force's intelligence department, and the head of the capital's anti-terrorism squad.

Under scrutiny

BBC Ankara Correspondent Chris Morris says senior echelons of the Turkish police have been under scrutiny since a car crash in 1996 exposed links between state security officials and extreme right-wing gangs.

A leading police officer and a wanted mafia boss were among those who died at the scene of the crash, where a variety of incriminating documents were recovered.

Our correspondent says the results of the investigation into the latest scandal could prove explosive.

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