Erdoğan urges ‘quick justice’ in coup probes
DHA photoTurkey is acting within the framework of law in prosecuting the followers of the U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, the main suspect in the July 15 coup attempt, but the judiciary should also act swiftly, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sept. 1 in an address at the opening ceremony of the new judicial year at his presidential palace.
“Since the world depends on justice, then the responsibility of our lawyers, prosecutors and lawyers is to ensure justice is done,” the president said.
Thirty coup plotters died during the bloody attempt, Erdoğan said, comparing the figure to the 241 people who died on the night of July 15 while resisting the uprising.
“This means that we did not order our security forces to shoot soldiers attempting the coup. We told them to catch them and hand them over to justice. Hey, world! What are you asking us? Those who came to catch or shoot me hid in a forested area in Marmaris for days. Our gendarmerie did not shoot them. They could have done that. But they caught them and brought them to the prosecutor,” he said.
Event at presidency strengthens judicial independence
Marking the opening of the judicial year at the presidential palace will not undermine judicial independence but strengthen it, Erdoğan also said in a bid to dismiss concerns voiced by the main opposition leader and the head of the bar union.
“Contrary to what has been said, [holding the ceremony at the presidency] will strengthen judicial independence,” Erdoğan said in an address to more than 1,500 participants that included senior government officials, judges, prosecutors, heads of the supreme justice institutions as well as Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar.
Erdoğan said holding the meeting at the presidency would not overshadow judicial independence following reactions from Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TTB) head Metin Feyzioğlu, who did not attend the event.
The opening of the judicial year ceremony has never been held at the presidency before, while it was also the first time the president had delivered a speech at the event.
The CHP and TTB criticized the decision to host the day at the palace on the grounds that it constituted a major violation of the principle of the separation of powers.
Erdoğan, however, said the presidency belonged to the Turkish people and that any activity impacting the issues of the people could be discussed at the presidential compound.
Holding such a meeting at the presidency instead of a hotel room has nothing to do with judicial independence, Erdoğan said, recalling that the decision to choose the location was made after discussions with the head of the Supreme Court of Appeals who complained that he could not find an adequate place to hold the meeting.
Erdoğan thanked Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli who attended the ceremony unlike the CHP leader. “I expect that representatives of other institutions to leave the tactics of tension and accusation aside and to move again in line with the Yenikapı spirit of Aug. 7 because our nation needs unity and solidarity more than ever,” he said.
On Aug. 7, a massive rally was held in Istanbul’s Yenikapı Square with the participation of the leaders of the CHP and the MHP, as well as Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, to denounce the July 15 coup attempt.
CHP: Scandalous meeting
CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu continued his criticisms against holding the ceremony at the Presidency, while replying to Erdoğan’s words on his absence at the event.
“This is a scandalous meeting,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters, slamming Erdoğan for making a political address to the judges. Each state has manners and traditions and state institutions hold their meetings in certain places, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “This is a fully scandalous meeting. They issue instructions to the judiciary. Justice has been brought to the domain of the executive. What does it have to do with democracy?”
Overshadowing judicial independence will not help provide unity in the country, and nobody can blame the CHP for this, Kılıçdaroğlu said, explaining that he did not attend the meeting as the constitutional oath he took obliged him to take care of the separation of powers.
“Holding the meeting at the Presidency is an insult to justice. No one rejects the fact that the Presidency belongs to the people,” he said.