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Ana Sayfa Chief justice issues ultimatum to judiciary to be impartial

Chief justice issues ultimatum to judiciary to be impartial

Giriş Tarihi: 23 Nisan 2010 Cuma 17:25
Chief justice issues ultimatum to judiciary to be impartial

short of convincing the public of its impartiality and objectivity and hence was in need of urgent reform to free itself from ideological influence. Kılıç's statements came during a ceremony commemorating the 48th anniversary of the foundation of the Constitutional Court.

The chief justice complained that contradictory judicial rulings fail to satisfy the public conscience in major judicial cases that are closely followed by the public, greatly shaking the public's confidence in the justice system.

Kılıç's remarks came in the midst of a heated debate about Turkey's judiciary, as its senior members have controversially sided with suspects on trial on charges of coup plotting and have made decisions that have been interpreted as attempts at direct intervention in those cases.

In one such incident, three prosecutors overseeing the probe into the Sledgehammer coup plot were removed from the case on the orders of İstanbul Chief Prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin early this month in a move that raised the eyebrows of numerous legal experts and jurists, who insist that the decision was a clear intervention into the judicial process.

Chief Justice Kılıç delivered a historic message to members of the judiciary, asking them to cleanse themselves of any political or ideological influence in order to ensure that their decisions are impartial and objective

According to the Sledgehammer plot, made public by a newspaper in January, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) had a systematic plan to create chaos in society by bombing mosques and attacking popular museums with Molotov cocktails.

In another case, Oktay Kuban, a judge at the İstanbul 12th High Criminal Court, released 19 suspects in the Sledgehammer investigation in early April, including former Gen. Çetin Doğan, who is the suspected author of the plot.

A panel of judges at the same court later ordered the rearrest of the 19 suspects released by Kuban. The panel also said Kuban had acted "irresponsibly and arbitrarily." In the wake of these developments, Kılıç said judicial reform is necessary for Turkey to clear the judiciary of all controversy and regain the public's confidence.

"For the happiness of our nation, the need for judicial reform has become obligatory for the establishment of a judicial system in Turkey in harmony with the modern world, free of any kind of political and ideological influence and fast and effective," stated Kılıç. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has introduced judicial reforms as part of a 30-article constitutional reform package that is now being debated in Parliament.

Among other things, the reform package foresees changes to the structures of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), allowing Parliament to appoint some of the members of these institutions.

Kılıç's remarks came in the midst of a heated debate about Turkey's judiciary, as its senior members have controversially sided with suspects on trial on charges of coup plotting and have made decisions that have been interpreted as attempts at direct intervention in those cases.

The prospects of such amendments have irked some members of the supreme judiciary as well as the staunchly secular main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which accuses the government of trying to control the judiciary. The government dismisses the claims, saying that the reforms will raise the democratic standards of the Turkish judiciary.

Calling on the judiciary to reflect on its mistakes, Kılıç said the judiciary should understand that it is high time for it to remedy its shortcomings. The chief justice also said those who try to keep the judiciary under ideological tutelage were the ones that are most disturbed by the neutrality and independence of the judiciary.

"We may have different views on every issue. However, everyone should agree on the need for neutrality in the judiciary," he said.

Kılıç also warned that judges reflecting their beliefs, political views or ideologies on their rulings bring the risk of provoking the opposite view, paving the way to another wrong.

"No matter who uses the powers of the legislative, executive and judicial bodies, they should give up the idea of saving democracy and the republic through illegitimate means and by hiding behind legal assurances," Kılıç said.

One of the issues that make the Turkish judiciary a target of debate in Turkey is its aspirations to protect the state against things that it sees as "threatening" the system.

Kılıç said the judiciary's failure to gain the public's confidence and sooth the public's conscience through its rulings will strengthen the tendency of those seeking their rights to resort to illegal means to solve their problems.

Yesterday's ceremony, which was held at the Constitutional Court in Ankara, was attended by President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, CHP leader Deniz Baykal, deputy prime ministers Cemil Çiçek and Bülent Arınç, Supreme Court of Appeals head Hasan Gerçeker, Council of State head Mustafa Birden, State Minister Hayati Yazıcı, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin and many members of senior judicial institutions.

A swearing-in ceremony was held for newly appointed Constitutional Court members Alparslan Altan, Engin Yıldırım and Burhan Üstün. Yıldırım and Üstün are alternate members of the court.

In the meantime, a statement released by the president's office yesterday announced that President Abdullah Gül had appointed Sr. Col. Nuri Necipoğlu, a member of the Military Supreme Court of Appeals, as a member of the Constitutional Court from among the three candidates nominated by the Military Supreme Court of Appeals. Necipoğlu was appointed to the seat vacated by Necmi Özler, who retired on April 1.

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