Erdoğan meets controversial chief ombudsman Ömeroğlu
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) shakes hands with Turkey’s chief ombudsman Mehmet Nihat Ömeroğlu before a meeting in Ankara. AA photo
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a meeting Dec. 14 with Mehmet Nihat Ömeroğlu, who recently took an oath as the country’s first ever chief ombudsman despite public outcry over his role in the conviction of late journalist Hrant Dink.
The closed-door meeting, which lasted almost an hour, came days after Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Turkish government on Dec. 10 to reconsider the appointment of Turkey’s first ombudsman, saying he continued to stand behind a court decision the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had strongly condemned as a violation of free speech. Ömeroğlu was among the judges in the Supreme Court of Appeals, Turkey’s highest court, who in 2006 upheld the conviction of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink for “insulting Turkishness” under the notorious Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.
Opposititon questions Ömeroğlu’s links
Along with his role in Dink’s conviction, Ömeroğlu’s relations with high bureaucracy and the government have also raised questions about his eligibility to this post.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has argued that Ömeroğlu’s relations with both Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek and Turkish Airlines (THY) have already been casting shadows over his impartiality. Ömeroğlu was promoted when Cemil Çiçek was holding a justice ministry post and Prime Minister Erdoğan was a witness at the wedding of Ömeroğlu’s son, the CHP said.
Meanwhile, earlier on Dec. 14, Erdoğan visited the head of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Ali Alkan, and held an hour long closed-door meeting accompanied by Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin.