Turkey’s top judge defends himself over controversial photograph

Turkey’s top judge defends himself over controversial photograph

ANKARA
Turkey’s top judge defends himself over controversial photograph

Turkey’s Constitutional Court head Zühtü Arslan has said a controversial picture in which he is seen bowing down to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was a photo manipulation, noting that showing respect to authorities cannot be considered as imperiling judicial autonomy. 

“That photograph does not reflect the reality. It is an ugly example of a framing manipulation that has been carefully implemented,” Arslan told reporters on Aug. 5. 

His comments came after a picture of him at a Victory Day reception at the Presidential Palace on Aug. 30 bowing to Erdoğan, drawing criticisms toward judicial independence.
 
Arslan stated that the photo showing him bowing down is part of a normal greeting gesture, pointing at the original video footage uploaded on the official website of the Constitutional Court. 

“We have uploaded the footage to our official website. When you watch it, you will see that it was a normal handshake. But that picture is a frame aiming to manipulate it into a certain image,” Arslan said. 

“I deem this an offense to my name and unfair on the honorable president’s name,” Arslan added.
 
He added that judicial independence should not be discussed based on “minor signs of showing respect to certain authorities.” 

“The issue of respect to the republic’s president and the issue of judicial independence are not related,” he said.
 
“Respect to the president is a requirement of a respect to the state and the nation in my opinion. But to reflect it as an obeisance or an attention is injustice to the Constitutional Court and its head,” he added. 

HDP’s ‘justice watch’ at top court


When asked about the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) sit-in protest at the Constitutional Court headquarters demanding the high court carries out the belated cases of its imprisoned lawmakers, Arslan said, “it is impossible to know when the appeals are to be issued.”

“When rapporteurs finish the reports, they submit it to heads of departments. The procedure concerning the imprisoned lawmakers is ongoing,” Arslan said. 

His comments came after the HDP delegation had a meeting with Arslan where they demanded the appeal of HDP lawmakers over the imprisoned lawmakers, arrested in November 2016, to be issued.