Officials revealed to have sold drugs, valuables kept as evidence in Turkey's east

Turkish officials were revealed to have sold drugs and valuables kept as evidence in the eastern province of Van by replacing them with similar-looking materials. Prosecutors are among those being tried, sources told Duvar.

Duvar English 

Turkish officials were revealed to have been selling drugs and historical artifacts kept as evidence in the Erciş district of the eastern province of Van. 

The officials, including prosecutors, sold the evidence for 10 years by replacing them with similar-looking substances, sources told Duvar. 

The chief of the evidence unit in Erciş Courthouse, identified only as M.Z., is accused of selling the evidence, including drugs, historical artifacts and counterfeit money, after they were delivered to him following operations in the province. 

In one instance, the officials were determined to have replaced 300 kilograms of cocaine with flour. In other, they prepared fake documents claiming that they destroyed the counterfeit money. 

The group managed to get away with their crimes for 10 years despite the controls carried out in every six months. 

The scheme was revealed when various organized crime groups started not paying the officials what they owe, prompting M.Z. and their friends to seek help from intermediaries. All the while, drug dealers found out about the officials' scheme and threatened to notify authorities. 

What followed was the Justice Ministry assigning an inspector in 2019, who found out irregularities in official documents. Police then started tracking the suspects and arrested M.Z. and another individual. 

One person is being tried without arrest and another is sought in the case. Four prosecutors, meanwhile, are tried over abusing their duties. 

M.Z. told the court that "similar things happen at all evidence units." He admitted committing some crimes while denying the rest. 

The first hearing of the case was held on June 20, 2020 and the most recent one was held on June 29. The next hearing will be held on Oct. 5.