Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has granted municipal awards to two mayors from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), who have been implicated in an alleged human trafficking scheme to Europe, which utilised special state passports, Duvar news site reported.
The mayor of southeastern Elazığ province’s town of Akçakiraz, Sabahattin Kaya, and southeastern Malatya province’s town of Yurtbaşı, Mehmet Çınar, were granted awards by the Turkish president over their involvement in local government youth projects, the site said.
Kaya and Çınar are among number of local administrators connected to allegations of human trafficking by AKP municipalities, which made headlines in early March after it was first discovered after only three out of the 45 people sent to Germany in September 2020 by the AKP-run Yesilyurt municipality as part of a youth programme returned to the country.
Reports revealed that the group been issued “grey passports,’’ which are given to individuals partaking in government-sponsored activities overseas, and the document had essentially been sold to those who were looking to seek refuge in Western Europe, aiding hundreds of people to cross into the continent illegally.
It was later discovered that over a half dozen other municipalities were allegedly involved in the so-called human trafficking scheme, including those of the main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP), according to Turkish media reports.
Turkey’s Interior Ministry in April launched an investigation into the alleged scandal, but there has been no information released on the probe.