Gov’t looks to alter status of specially authorized courts

Gov’t looks to alter status of specially authorized courts

Gov’t looks to alter status of specially authorized courts

The specially authorized courts must be abolished entirely, says CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu.

The government signaled it would bring up the issue of the overhaul of the status of specially authorized courts in a motion included in the third judicial package.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ did not contradict reports that changes to Article 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK), which amends the status of specially authorized courts, will be included in the third judicial package. “The government’s study on the issue is underway. When we finish, it will be evaluated,” Bozdağ said.

The government has decided to include an amendment abolishing the controversial specially authorized courts in its third judicial package, which will be debated at Parliament’s General Assembly on June 30, daily Hürriyet reported yesterday. Following the abolition of the specially authorized courts, “a regional structure” will be established for crimes related to terrorism and coup attempts, and some of the existing High Criminal Courts will be tasked with those trials.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Bozdağ said work on the issue was proceeding, and that there were two provisions related to the specially authorized courts in the third judicial package.

Another deputy prime minister, Bülent Arınç, however, said he had no information on the amendment regarding the specially authorized courts.

“I’m not informed on this issue, which was reflected in the press as background information. There is a slight probability that this information is true. But all of us should follow the debates on the third judicial package on [June 30],” Arınç told reporters yesterday.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Bozdağ and Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin late yesterday afternoon at his official residence. It is being said that a final decision on the specially authorized courts will be made in accordance with Erdoğan’s instructions. The meeting was still continuing when the Hürriyet Daily News went to print yesterday.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, for his part, once again said his party opposed the specially authorized courts, and suggested that the controversial courts should be abolished.

Asked whether the government’s proposal will abolish the specially authorized courts or is just a move to “rename” those courts, Kılıçdaroğlu said he would comment when the proposal was revealed.
The specially authorized courts have long been under fire over controversial practices, especially in their handling of the high-profile investigations into the Ergenekon and “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) coup plots. A call from prosecutors with special authority for National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan to testify about secret talks with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in February became a breaking point for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Erdoğan subsequently accused the specially authorized courts of “going too far,” saying: “He was instructed by me. If you want to take someone [to prosecute], then take me,” in televised remarks June 6.

Curbing the courts’ authority or abolishing them proved a protracted process, as some AKP members as well as the Gülen movement, a religious movement led by Fethullah Gülen, who resides in the United States, opposed such an attempt, claiming that it would “weaken the government’s struggle against terrorism and coup plots.”