Court rejects trial for annulation of Gezi Park redevelopment project
Elif İNCE ISTANBUL - Radikal
The move to cut down trees at Gezi Park last May triggered local demonstrations, which rapidly spread into nationwide anti-government protests. dAILY NEWS photoAn administrative court has rejected a lawsuit for the annulment of the Gezi Park redevelopment project, despite the fact that a stay of execution was issued for the construction of the historic Artillery Barracks by a regional court last June.
Representatives of the Gezi Park Protection and Beautification Association, who made the annulment demand, stressed that construction in the controversial redevelopment project could not legally start, and that the Istanbul 6th Administrative Court’s decision to reject the lawsuit was legally unacceptable.
The move to cut down trees in one of the few green areas in central Istanbul had triggered local demonstrations late May, which rapidly spread into nationwide anti-government protests after repeated police crackdowns on activists triggered a huge outcry.
Noting that an appeals process was pending at the Council of State over the invalidation of the park’s redevelopment plans, lawyer Can Atalay said that if the ruling was not upheld, the construction of the historic Artillery Barracks as a shopping and entertainment complex inside Gezi Park could return to the agenda.
But the court stated on Feb. 21 that it could only rule on whether the project conforms to the plans and not annul the redevelopment plans altogether.
“The plaintiff claimed that preserving Taksim Gezi Park as a park is more in the general interest and necessities, while a project whose construction has not started yet does not serve the same purpose. But these claims can only be examined in a lawsuit on the registration of the Artillery Barracks as a cultural asset,” the court said in its ruling
Atalay noted that the High Board of Protection of Cultural Assets had approved registering the project as a cultural asset, although it was first rejected by a lower instance. “The 2nd Board of Protection of Cultural Assets has already rejected the preliminary project. In this context, it is unacceptable for the administrative court to reject the files and tell us to open a lawsuit for the registry [of the Barracks] as a cultural asset,” Atalay said.
The Istanbul 1st Regional Court had ruled on June 6, 2013 to order a stay of execution in the case of the Taksim Gezi Park Protection and Beautification Association versus the Culture and Tourism Ministry, halting the demolition amid countrywide protests.
But the ministry appealed the verdict, prompting the Istanbul 6th Administrative Court to lift the legal obstacles preventing Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality from demolishing Gezi Park until the State Council gave its final verdict on the matter.
Amid the legal imbroglio, the association argues that the project was already annulled by the Istanbul 1st Administrative Court.
Part of his self-denominated “crazy projects, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to back down from the project, slamming the court execution on a stay of execution.