Draft to mandate Turkish PM’s consent for prosecution of top commanders
If adopted, the prime minister’s consent will be required for the prosecution of the chief of the General Staff and the commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Forces. AA photoTurkey’s government has submitted a draft that would make it necessary for judicial authorities to receive the prime minister’s approval before trying senior members of the military amid debates over the possible retrial of hundreds of military officers.
If adopted, the prime minister’s consent will be required for the prosecution of the chief of the General Staff and the commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Forces, while the interior minister’s consent will be required for prosecution of the general commander of the Gendarmerie.
Both the prime minister and the interior minister will be able to take the initiative to launch either an investigation or a preliminary examination in order to decide whether to give consent for the prosecution.
A clause was approved in a 2010 constitutional referendum stating that “the chief of the General Staff, the commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Forces and the general commander of the Gendarmerie shall be tried before the Supreme Council due to crimes about their duties.” The Supreme Council is the name the Constitutional Court takes when it tries ministers and senior members of the judiciary.
It will be possible to temporarily suspend those who have been subject to prosecution. Those who are the subject of related decisions will be able to appeal to the Presidency within 10 days. Any decision made by the president following an objection will be deemed final.
Hundreds of people have been jailed in Turkey on alleged plots to overthrow the government soon after it came to power in 2002. They include the country’s former military chief and other top commanders.
But the legitimacy of their trials was questioned recently after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s top political adviser suggested that those officers had been framed by groups within the police and judiciary whom the government is now accusing of orchestrating a massive corruption probe that has targeted the prime minister’s allies.
In the first days of 2014, the military filed a legal complaint, asking prosecutors to look into the claims as well as accusations by government officials that the corruption probe was a conspiracy by a group that has allegedly infiltrated the judiciary and police.
The military officers and their supporters have long complained of unfair treatment and of fabricated evidence during trials.
The government has pointed fingers at the followers of a U.S.-based Islamic scholar, Fethullah Gülen, for the corruption investigation, which has ensnared the sons of three former government ministers and the head of a state-owned bank. Gülen, who is based in Pennsylvania and commands a global empire of business, media and education interests, has denied any involvement in the investigation.
Turkey’s secular military staged three military takeovers since the 1960s, but has seen its powers curbed by the decade-long rule of Erdoğan’s Islam-based government. The trial of the military officers helped end its hold on politics.
Some analysts see recent developments as a sign of an uneasy alliance forming between Erdoğan’s government and the military against the Gülen movement.