Gov’t rushes intel law to the Parliament’s floor
ANKARA - Hurriyet Daily News
The AKP presses ahead with a controversial bill to shield intelligence officials against judicial probes as doubts lingers on whether it would also push for broader changes to curb the powers of special prosecutors mooted by the justice minister.
he ruling party pressed ahead with a controversial bill to shield intelligence officials against judicial probes as doubts lingered on whether it would also push broader changes to curb the powers of special authority prosecutors mooted by the justice minister after resistance came from within the ruling party.
Parliament was expected to debate today or tomorrow the amendment to the act regulating the
National Intelligence Organization (MIT) which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed through the Justice Commission late Feb. 14 in a rush to forestall the unprecedented probe into the MÝT chief and four other officials on suspicion MIT collaborated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Despite fierce objections by the opposition, an additional provision was added to the draft to make sure the amendment covers ongoing probes.
In an apparent sign of hesitation among government ranks, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdað said he had no information about the amendments Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin recently suggested to condition probes into top civilian and military officials to the prime minister’s permission. Some AKP lawmakers have already raised objections to the proposal on grounds massive probes into alleged coup plots would be hurt. Articles 250 and 251 of the Penal Code decorate specially-authorized prosecutors with broad authority to allow them to carry out investigations into alleged coup plots.
Ergin had suggested the broader changes could be added to a package of reforms aimed at expediting the justice system. Parliament’s Justice Commission took up the draft package yesterday but immediately sent it to debate at a sub-commission, a routine procedure for bulky drafts that take days, if not weeks.
Special courts ‘not eternal’
Speaking on CNN Türk television, Bozdað said “improvements” could be made in the penal code, but argued that the amended MIT Act would meet the need to protect officials “carrying out strategic tasks.”
The minister conceded the government also had complaints on the functioning of special authority courts but maintained Turkey needed them in the struggle against terrorism and organized crime.
“Those courts are not indispensible but there is currently a need for them. They should not be regarded as permanent. I hope the need for them would end soon,” he said.
Bozdað defended the amendment to the MIT Act, brushing aside criticism it would empower the prime minister to act with impunity. “The prime minister’s decisions will be open to appeal. The courts will have the final say,” Bozdað said.
Bozdað rejected suggestions the probe into MIT was part of a growing rift between the AKP and the influential Islamic community of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen. Such claims were “the wishful thinking” of those who failed to beat the AKP at the ballot box, he argued, adding that the AKP did not favor people according to their religious or social affiliations. The minister firmly denied that “Gülenists” had taken control of key posts in the police and the judiciary.