Ankara: Turkish riot police blasted opposition protesters with water cannons, tear gas and plastic bullets in Istanbul on Monday in scenes reminiscent of the summer`s mass anti-government demonstrations.
Some of the protesters threw rocks and firecrackers at police, shouting, "Catch the thief!" in reference to a widening corruption scandal gripping Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdodan`s government.
Similar protests were held in the city of Izmir, and in Ankara where police also fired water cannons to disperse the crowds.
At least 31 people, including three lawyers, were detained in Istanbul, according to the Istanbul Bar Association.
Thousands of Erdodan backers, meanwhile, gathered at other spots showing their support for the embattled Erdogan.
A Turkish high court today blocked the government from changing the rules on how corruption investigations are initiated, dealing another blow to Erdodan`s government.
Twenty-four people, including the sons of two former government ministers and the head of the state-owned financial institution, Halkbank, have been arrested on bribery charges.
Media reports say the probe is over alleged illicit money transfers to Iran and bribery for construction projects.
Erdodan was forced to reshuffle his government this week after the three ministers, whose sons were detained for questioning as part of the corruption and bribery 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 ensure that corruption investigations are initiated by top police and judicial officials some of whom are believed to be close to Erdogan. Critics have accused Erdogan of trying to stifle the investigation.
The High Administrative Court ruled today that the government revert to previous protocols on investigations pending further deliberations on the issue a case that was prompted by complaints by Turkey`s bar association.