Erdoğan insists top court exceeded jurisdiction by ruling for release of journalists

Erdoğan insists top court exceeded jurisdiction by ruling for release of journalists

Erdoğan insists top court exceeded jurisdiction by ruling for release of journalists

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has again claimed that the Constitutional Court overstepped its jurisdiction by ruling in favor of the release of daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül, speaking after the court released its justification for the ruling.

Speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko late on March 9, Erdoğan said he had “unfortunately” not yet read the justification.

“But I’ve heard that they released a 33-page-long justification. I suppose they had difficulty explaining the justification,” he said.
“I’ve already announced my opinion within this framework and I’m repeating it: The Constitutional Court should wait for the exhaustion of all other judicial means in cases of individual applications ... [With the ruling], the Constitutional Court placed itself in the position of a primary court. It is not right [for the Constitutional Court] to make a review at this stage like the Supreme Court of Appeals,” Erdoğan added.

“[By saying this], I’m fulfilling a requirement of the responsibility given to me by Article 104 of the constitution,” Erdoğan said, referring to Article 104 which outlines the president’s duties and powers.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ also joined the conversation by claiming the Constitutional Court overstepped its jurisdiction and warning that Turkey could face “serious legal problems” if the court insisted on “expanding its jurisdiction.”

“Our Constitutional Court is not a court of first instance, or a court of appeals, and definitely not a supreme court,” he said in a statement quoted by the state-run Anadolu Agency. 

Bozdağ accused court members of evaluating evidence like a court of first instance in ruling for the release of Dündar and Gül. 

“The constitution does not grant the Constitutional Court such a right or duty,” he said.

In its justification released earlier on March 9, the Constitutional Court said it decided a local court that ruled for the arrests of Dündar and Gül had made a “discretion mistake” concerning the ruling which put Dündar and Gül behind bars for over 90 days.

Corrections were made and dissenting opinions were added to the justification, which was published in the Official Gazette on March 10.

Dündar and Gül were freed on Feb. 26 after the Constitutional Court ruled their detention was “unlawful” and violated their individual freedom and safety in its ruling released on Feb. 25.

The two journalists, who still face trial and potential life sentences, were arrested in November 2015 and charged with intentionally aiding an armed terrorist organization and publishing material in violation of state security.