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Erdogan's palace declared illegal by Turkish court

The Turkish Supreme Court has ruled that the construction of an 1,100-room palace by President Erdogan was illegal. The palace was constructed on protected land.

Tuesday's decision by Turkey's Supreme Court revoked the building permit that had been issued to build President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's palace after the fact because it had been illegally built on protected land.

The palace was inaugurated in October to coincide with Erdogan's transition from head of government as Prime Minister to head of state as President. The building has had plenty of critics, many of whom focus on the construction costs of just over 500 million euros (well over $600 million) for the 1,100-room palace.

The presidential palace, popularly dubbed Ak Saray ("White Palace") was built under controversial circumstances, in a wooded area within the Ataturk Forest Farm in Ankara. The construction went ahead despite environmental concerns and court orders, prompting its critics to instead call it Kacak Saray ("Illegal Palace").

It appears now that they may be right with the moniker, however it remains unclear if the court decision will have any consequences for Erdogan or the completed palace.

Parliamentary elections in Turkey are approaching on June 7. As president, Erdogan is not allowed to partipate in any campaigning, but his recent speeches have carried a distinct undertone of support for the AKP, the party he previously led as prime minister. There is also increased support in Turkey for Erdogan's plan of assigning more powers to his new role as president, currently seen as a largely ceremonial role.

mz/msh (AP, dpa, AFP)

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