‘Only courts can release Brunson,’ Turkey’s top appeals court judge says

‘Only courts can release Brunson,’ Turkey’s top appeals court judge says

ANKARA

Turkey’s top appeals court judge has said United States pastor Andrew Brunson can only be released by “independent and impartial courts.” 

Speaking at the official ceremony to launch the new judicial year at the Presidential Congress and Cultural Center in Ankara on Sept. 3, the Court of Cassation head İsmail Rüştü Cirit referred to the Brunson case without mentioning the pastor’s name.

“The only and absolute power that can rule on the arrest of a foreign citizen in İzmir and decisions about his trial are the independent and impartial courts, which use their judicial power on behalf of the Turkish nation,” Cirit said.

“Foreign states that claim to sustain ideals of democracy, human rights and the state of law should first respect the Republic of Turkey’s sovereignty, which is protected by international law,” he added.

Cirit also blasted at attempts to use “brute force to reverse this reality.”

“Human rights are a legitimate area of concern for the international community, however, any measures to be taken to show this concern should be within judicial values and principles. To use brute force to reverse this fact, which is a basic principle of contemporary democracies and law of nations, would mean weakening human rights, rather than strengthening them,” he added.

Cirit said 2018 will mark the 150th year of the founding of the Court of Cassation, and the theme “justice” was chosen this year to emphasize on the importance of the independence and competence in judicial processes.

“The existence of fair, independent, impartial and honest law professionals is the most important assurance of democracy and legal order,” he said.

“Bills, decisions, judicial files or judicial works that are prepared carelessly and are inattentive holding up the judicial process at the same time harms both parties. For this reason, to act in accordance with the compliance principle by defining objective criteria for the selection, promotion or appointment of judicial personnel, prosecutors and judges are of utmost importance,” he said.

The continued detention of Brunson has become a lightning rod in strained relations between Turkey and the U.S., leading Washington to slap economic and political sanctions on its NATO ally.

Brunson, who has been living in Turkey for more than two decades, was accused of helping supporters of the U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen who Turkish authorities say masterminded the 2016 coup attempt in which 250 people were killed.

He was also charged with supporting the illegal PKK, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S.

The pastor was moved from prison to house arrest on July 25 and all of his appeals for release have been rejected since then.

Brunson’s next hearing as part of the trial is scheduled for Oct. 12.appeals court judge has said that the United States pastor Andrew Brunson can be released only by “independent and impartial courts.”

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