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Yacht owned by founder of Turkey used by prostitution ring

December 21, 2010 - London

A yacht that belonged to the late founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is said to have been used by an international prostitution ring catering to rich businessmen.

Ataturk, a former army officer and war hero who founded the Turkish state after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, had met Cabinet ministers and hosted foreign envoys aboard the MV Savarona.

According to the Anatolia news agency, ten suspects face charges including human smuggling, encouraging prostitution and establishing a crime ring.

One of the suspects, Tevfik Arif, a Kazakh businessman, is accused of financing a s*x party aboard the 408ft yacht, but he has denied the allegations.

The court has ordered him and four other suspects not to leave the country and adjourned the trial until February 18.

Turkey deported nine Russian and Ukrainian women, including two minors, after authorities said they broke up a prostitution ring aboard the MV Savarona in late September.

After the raid, embarrassed Turkish government authorities said that the lease of the yacht would be cancelled and the white, steam-powered vessel, turned into a museum.

The agency report said the indictment alleges that Arif bankrolled the party aboard the yacht, which has 17 luxurious suites in addition to the master suite.

"He is someone who paid for all fees for the women, the agencies and men in the middle and the transfer of foreigners involved," the Scotsman quoted the indictment as saying.

The yacht, which was bought by the Turkish government in 1938, the same year Ataturk died, had been leased by a prominent Turkish businessman for 49 years in 1989, and later sub-leased to different customers.


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