Turkey: court overturns move blocking probe

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In this photo taken late Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey. After a decade of dominance over Turkey's political scene, a rapidly developing corruption and bribery scandal has for the first time left Erdogan looking off balance and not in control of the political reins.(AP Photo/ File)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Turkish prime minister on Friday faced mounting accusations of trying to cover up a corruption scandal that has implicated his allies after a prosecutor said he was being prevented from expanding a corruption probe.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was forced to reshuffle his government this week after three ministers, whose sons were detained as part of the probe, resigned. Erdogan says the probe is part of a wider conspiracy aimed at bringing his government down. But his government has also removed police officers from posts and changed police regulations to funnel corruption investigations through top police and judicial officials.

Critics have accused Erdogan of trying to stifle the probe and Turkey's administrative high court on Friday suspended the government changes on corruption investigations pending more deliberations.

A prosecutor leading the investigation, Muammer Akkas, complained that police officers had not carried out orders for another wave of arrests. He said in a statement issued Thursday that the chief prosecutor and police were hampering his probe.

Istanbul's chief prosecutor, Turan Colakkadi, later removed Akkas from the case for allegedly leaking information to the media, and said Akkas was carrying out "random investigations."

Three legislators from Erdogan's party, who have been critical of the government's handling of the scandal, resigned Friday over what they said was the government's pressure on the judiciary.

The leader of the opposition also accused the government of protecting thieves.

"We have entered an era where the thieves are being protected and prosecutors who are going after the thieves are rendered ineffective," said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party.