Former executives of Ankara municipality subject of corruption probe over failed theme park

Ankara prosecutors have demanded information and documents from the municipality about the officials of the former administration, under the leadership of former mayor Melih Gökçek, over corruption reports in the construction of the failed theme park of Ankapark.

Former Ankara mayor Melih Gökçek (L) rides one of the roller coasters in Ankapark in this file photo.

Duvar English

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office demanded information and documents from the Ankara municipality about the executives that served in office during the term of the former mayor Melih Gökçek.

The former administration of the municipality has become the subject of a corruption investigation related to how public funds were used for the now-closed Ankapark, a heavily criticized theme park whose construction is said to have cost 801 million dollars.

The park, commissioned by Gökçek, stayed open for less than a year, before being closed down. Afterwards, an investigation was launched into Gökçek and his associates with the argument that they used the theme park as a way to funnel public money into companies that had close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The formerly AKP-led municipality is said to have given priority to certain private companies in the tenders held for the park's construction projects.

The current municipality has applied to the authorities with the demand that it gets to hold the ownership of the closed park.

The park was opened in March 2019 during an official ceremony that saw the attendance of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The president deemed the park a “symbol of pride” for Turkey, but the park failed to keep up with the expectations as it closed down in February 2020.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) ousted the ruling AKP from the Ankara municipality following the 2019 local elections. For several years, the AKP-led municipality maintained a patronage system in the capital, outsourcing public works projects to private companies and exempting them from certain regulations in return for support. 

After he assumed the post, Ankara mayor Mansur Yavaş filed several criminal complaints against Gökçek for “abusing authority” and “causing damage by negligence.” Several of Gökçek's projects have been a symbol of unnecessary expenditure for the city.