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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Casino Scandal Sacking




ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Azeri President Heidar Aliyev said he had removed Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov from his post for illegal involvement in a real estate deal.


"Illegal acts were uncovered. Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov was punished and removed from his post," Aliyev, on a visit to Turkey, said Saturday at a news conference in Istanbul.


He said Azerbaijan had been affected by Turkey's "Susurluk" scandal in which Turkish government members were linked with mafia figures, casino owners and drug barons.


"Whoever is guilty, whoever is at fault, we do not cover it up and we never will," Aliyev said.


The Turkish media said Hasanov was accused of corruption in the building of the Hotel Europa in the Azeri capital, Baku, financed by a loan by the Turkish government under supervision of the Azeri Foreign Ministry.


The building, intended to be an official Foreign Ministry residence, became a luxury hotel and casino run by the Turkish "casino king" Omer Lutfu Topal.


The Susurluk scandal emerged at the end of 1996 when a car carrying a member of parliament, a senior policeman, a former beauty queen and a mafia boss crashed near the town of Susurluk.


Topal was gunned down in the summer of 1996. The fingerprints of Abdullah Catli, the gangster who died in the crash, were found on a gun left at the scene.


The Turkish government published a report on the scandal last month, naming Aliyev's son Ilhan Aliyev as linked with the Europa Hotel deal.


Aliyev said Saturday that parts of the report concerning Azerbaijan were found to be false.