Turkish Justice Minister uses discretion for investigation into key jurists
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ. Cihan PhotoJustice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has taken the initiative to launch an investigation into a prosecutor and three judges who issued court orders for the arrest and freezing of assets of graft suspects in the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 investigations, overruling the country’s top judicial body that had dismissed the need for such an investigation.
During a meeting held last week, the 3rd Chamber of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) eventually made its decision concerning prosecutor Zekeriya Öz and the three judges involved in the Ergenekon coup plot case Hasan Hüseyin Özese, Hüsnü Çalmuk and Sedat Sami Haşıloğlu. Öz is the former Istanbul deputy chief prosecutor who was supervising the prosecutors who started the investigation into corruption claims on Dec. 17, 2013, and he was also the lead prosecutor at the beginning of the controversial Ergenekon coup plot case.
Speaking to reporters on June 3, Bozdağ was asked about his call disregarding the 3rd Chamber’s decision.
“I received the decisions. I made the required decision about them and sent it to the HSYK. I did what I was supposed to do within the legal framework … We have conveyed our opinion that [they] shall be investigated,” he said.
Bozdağ has the legal authority to overrule such decisions by the HSYK.
Shortly after eruption of the Dec. 17 investigation, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) responded with waves of purges within the police department, the judiciary and other state departments. The government alleges that a “parallel state” orchestrated the probes in order to damage the government.
As part of these purges, Öz was assigned to the Bolu Prosecutor’s Office in February, shortly after being assigned to the Bakırköy district of Istanbul.
Öz is alleged to have installed a special camera system at his office in the Istanbul Courthouse, with which he is accused of secretly recording meetings.
Özese, Çalmuk and Haşıloğlu are set to be investigated regarding their delay in releasing the detailed ruling concerning the Ergenekon coup plot case. The delay had caused controversy as it prevented suspects from appealing their cases to higher courts at the time.