President urged to step in over abuses of rights
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
This file photo shows the entrance of Silivri Prison, where the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) hearings are held and the suspects in those cases are kept. Bar Association Chairman Feyzioğlu complains to Gül about the conditions in Silivri. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELThe Ankara Bar Association yesterday briefed President Abdullah Gül on alleged rights breaches in high-profile trials and urged him to intervene to break the “vicious circle” of using the justice system for political score-settling.
“Those in power use the justice system as a revenge-taking mechanism. Turkey will enter another vicious circle if times change tomorrow and those who are behind bars today are freed and start taking revenge. This vicious circle must be broken, and this is exactly what the president is for,” Bar Association Chairman Metin Feyzioğlu told reporters after the meeting.
Feyzioğlu said they informed Gül microphones were hanging over defense lawyers and recording them in courtrooms at the Silivri prison complex, where the trials of suspects in the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) cases were under way, and that the speaking time of the defense had been limited to 15 minutes as part of an unprecedented procedure.
The president was also briefed regarding controversial procedures in trials relating to the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban network of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and in particular a ban on defendants speaking Kurdish.
“It was the first time the president’s attention was drawn to certain issues. He took particular interest in the eavesdropping on lawyers in Silivri, the limitation of defense to 15 minutes and the fact the ban on defense in mother tongue for KCK cases is not implemented in adjacent courtrooms,” Feyzioğlu said.
In a related development, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) submitted a censure motion against Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin on grounds he was turning a blind eye to massive rights breaches in ongoing trials.
“Illegal wiretapping and detentions on the basis of police allegations have become a common practice, backed by the Justice Ministry. The minister should quit his post so as to prevent the justice system from becoming an instrument of repression over Parliament and the opposition,” the CHP motion said.
The motion underlined that illegally taped calls between jailed journalist Nedim Şener and CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had been presented as incriminating evidence. Even Parliament speeches, law proposals and parliamentary questions by CHP deputies, which the Oda TV website had published, were added and described as evidence of activities of sedition.
Ergin, for his part, said a draft law aiming at shortening trials would be submitted to Parliament soon.