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ANKARA WHISPERS > AKP differs over criminal code changes

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Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin (C) suggested last week that the 250th and the 251st articles of the Turkish Code of Criminal
Procedure (CMK) be amended within the scope of a judicial package so as to include the military as well.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin (C) suggested last week that the 250th and the 251st articles of the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK) be amended within the scope of a judicial package so as to include the military as well.

Göksel Bozkurt Göksel Bozkurt goksel.bozkurt@hurriyet.com.tr

As the turmoil begotten by the split between the judiciary and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) continues, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reinforced the legal shield afforded to Hakan Fidan and other leading names of the democratic initiative through the amendment to the MİT law. Will this shield suffice to protect MİT staff despite everything? Two views have emerged within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in regards to this issue.

 While some propagate that the amendment to the MİT law should suffice, others believe the 250th and 251st articles of the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK) ought to be amended as well. Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin suggested that the “250th and the 251st articles of the CMK be amended within the scope of the third judicial package, so as to include the military as well.” Ergin’s suggestion was interpreted by some as a “message” intentionally delivered to certain quarters, but this does not alter the fact that there is an ongoing debate among the AKP’s legal experts. Minister Ergin proposed that the CMK be altered so as to explicitly spell out the names of those offices for which the prime minister’s authorization will be sought before launching an investigation, such as the chief of General Staff, the MİT undersecretary, force commanders, the prime minister’s advisers, or the head of the police department.

Minister Ergin’s proposal was met with serious resistance both from within the party and without, as the CMK amendment would also include the military. A significant portion of the party’s cadres, including some from its headquarters, are essentially worried that amending the articles in question could also harm ongoing investigations such as the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) trials and potentially stymie the process of fighting against supporters of a coup d’etat. This group is also against interfering with courts with special authority.

The fear among the AKP’s ranks that the entire Ergenekon trial process could come to naught has overshadowed Minister Ergin’s proposal for the 250th article of the CMK to remain unaltered in the third judicial package. What is to follow next? Will the AKP roll into action to amend the CMK’s 250th and the 251st articles?

Parliament’s Justice Commission reviewed the third judicial package and sent it to the subcommission. I met with Hakkı Köylü, the head of the subcommission. He, too, remains skeptical, like the majority of the AKP’s cadres, that tampering with the CMK’s 250th article could do harm to certain cases.

The subcommission presided over by Köylü will convene for the first time on Wednesday this week. Köylü expects the subcommission’s report to come out in the second half of March. The third judicial package, consisting of some 90 articles, will be reviewed in sections by the subcommission, where the AKP holds the majority. The first section includes amendments to bankruptcy and enforcement law, while matters of civil judiciary are going to be covered in the second section. The third and last section deals with the criminal judiciary.

The meaning of all this is quite clear. The AKP wants to keep the debate over the CMK’s 250th article within its own ranks and make a cost-benefit analysis. The effects of the new MİT law and whether it will suffice or not are going to come to light during this period. Clearly, the stance adopted by Prime Minister Erdoğan, who just underwent surgery and approved the hasty MİT amendment during this period, is also going to figure prominently. Though unlikely, the AKP could also take on the CMK’s 250th article by excluding the Ergenekon gang to the fullest extent possible. If no problems arise, then Minister’s Ergin’s proposal will be suspended, it seems.

Does Baykal want to return?

As the opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) convention over internal regulations approaches, some rather interesting politicking is taking place behind the scenes. Deniz Baykal tested the waters for the presidency of the congress council. Baykal’s plans, however, failed to materialize, as Adnan Keskin, who was recommended by CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, chose not to yield. Why does Baykal want this? Does he intend to return to the party’s helm? “Baykal is a politician who does not give up easily. He feels discomforted by Kılıçdaroğlu and his team. He wanted to raise his profile at the congress and present a rallying image, as he still harbors a desire for the leadership of the party. He may have wanted to use the convention over internal regulations as a jump-off point. It seems to be the case, however, that his old friend Adnan Keskin, from whom he had parted some 12 years ago, dashed his hopes,” said a prominent CHP figure.

The President’s Office in Çankaya steps in for hate crimes

The Hate Crimes Platform has been running a “campaign for a law” for some time. The platform includes minorities, Alevis, disabled people, and LGBTs (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual), as well as human and women’s rights groups. The organization would like hate crimes to be punishable by law, indicating that such crimes target people’s identities. They held a series of important meetings in Parliament last week for a hate crime law to be passed and received support from the AKP, the CHP, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The president’s office in Çankaya is also warm to the idea. The platform paid a visit to Prof. Mustafa İsen, the general secretary of the office of the presidency. I learned that Prof. İsen requested the initiation of some work to combat commonly held prejudices and the marginalization of people. It seems the platform has come one step closer to the Hate Crimes Law, thanks to the support it was able to muster from the Çankaya Presidential Palace.

Does Deniz Baykal want to return?

As the opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) convention over internal regulations approaches, some rather interesting politicking is taking place behind the scenes. CHP’s former leader Deniz Baykal tested the waters for the presidency of the congress council. Baykal’s plans, however, failed to materialize, as Adnan Keskin, who was recommended by CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, chose not to yield. Why does Baykal want this? “Baykal is a politician who does not give up easily. He feels discomforted by Kılıçdaroğlu and his team. He wanted to raise his profile at the congress and present a rallying image, as he still harbors a desire for the leadership of the party. He may have wanted to use the convention over internal regulations as a jump-off point,” said a prominent CHP figure.

Hate crimes law receives support

The Hate Crimes Platform has been running a “campaign for a law” for some time. The platform includes minorities, Alevis, disabled people, and LGBTs (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual), as well as human and women’s rights groups. The organization would like hate crimes to be punishable by law, indicating that such crimes target people’s identities. They held a series of important meetings in Parliament last week for a hate crime law to be passed and received support. The platform paid a visit to Prof. Mustafa İsen, the general secretary of the office of the presidency. I learned that Prof. İsen requested the initiation of some work to combat commonly held prejudices and the marginalization of people.


February/20/2012

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