A Turkish court in the south-eastern province of Diyarbakır (Amed) on Saturday arrested a lieutenant and a specialist sergeant for receiving bribes from people that wanted to be appointed as village guards.
Lieutenant Ahmet Eren, former commander of a district gendarmerie in Diyarbakır, and Specialist Sergeant Soner Eren received a total of TL 600,000 [$32,000] as bribes in 2017 and 2018 according to the prosecutors, who took 38 people into custody over the alleged bribe scheme four days ago.
The lieutenant and the specialist sergeant are the only suspects arrested by the court.
According to the local media, the total amount of bribes collected from people is much higher.
The village guard system, established in 1985, was used by the Turkish state as a paramilitary force to aid in the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas in Turkey’s mountainous southeast.
Following the collapse of peace negotiations between the state and the PKK in 2016, the government introduced changes in the structure of village guards, known for their human rights abuses and criminal activities. The guards were given per diems, bonuses, operation compensation, and permission to carry arms off duty, while their salaries were indexed to that of civil servants.