CHP leader questions presence of heads of top judicial bodies at municipality event
DHA photoTurkey’s main opposition leader has questioned the presence of the heads of top judicial bodies at an event hosted by the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, at which Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), delivered a speech.
“The presidents of the Supreme Court of Appeals, the Council of State and the Court of Accounts also attended this meeting,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Jan. 12, referring to a Jan. 6 launching ceremony for 2016 projects by the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality.
“I want to ask these presidents: What were you doing there? Why did you go there? For what reason did you go there? What did you go there in exchange for? What were you promised so that you went there? I’m asking the president of the Court of Accounts: You have to audit the accounts of the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality; will you not send auditors there? Did you promise that there?” he asked, speaking at a parliamentary group meeting of his party.
“My other question is for the president of the Supreme Court of Appeals: Until yesterday, cases have been opened against the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality before the Supreme Court of appeals; did you go there for securing those cases?” the CHP leader asked, adding that the president of the Council of State was also responsible for hearing cases opened against the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality and Mayor Melih Gökçek, who will reach a quarter of a century as the city’s mayor after having been elected in March 2014 local elections on the AKP ticket.
Kılıçdaroğlu noted Gökçek made a statement on Jan. 8, only two days after this meeting, and said he would proceed with an urban planning project concerning historic Ulus Square in the capital city despite a court decision on the issue for a stay of execution.
“’No matter if they want or not, I will do it,’” Kılıçdaroğlu quoted Gökçek as saying of the project. “That’s to say, ‘Who is the judiciary to say a thing?’ The lady who is the president of the Council of State is giving such courage to this [mayor],” Kılıçdaroğlu added, referring to Council of State President Zerrin Güngör.
“We have respect for the judiciary. These are our rooted institutions, but when political persons are appointed to the head of these institutions, then institutions start decaying from the inside,” he said.
In its latest progress report on Turkey released in November 2015, the European Commission said: “The Turkish judicial system, which had significantly improved between 2007 and 2013 in terms of independence, efficiency and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, has seen respect for the principle of separation of powers seriously undermined. Judges and prosecutors have been under strong political pressure.”