Gül unlikely to take rigging bill to court

Gül unlikely to take rigging bill to court

Gül unlikely to take rigging bill to court

Galatasaray hosted Fenerbahçe in a much-anticipated derby game last night while the ongoging match-fixing investigation tops Turkish football’s agenda. AA photo

President Abdullah Gül is unlikely to push for a Constitutional Court annulment of a controversial law reducing penalties for match fixers out of a desire to prevent further tension between himself and the government, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

Last week, Gül vetoed the much-debated law, which was backed by the government and two major opposition parties; the ruling party, however, has vowed to return the bill to the Presidency without any changes.

The law will be discussed during today’s Justice Commission meeting at Parliament and is expected to be voted on again on Dec. 11. If Parliament does not amend the law, the president will be forced to approve it, but will still have the right to take it to the top court for its annulment. Gül, who has previously vetoed parts of four laws, has not taken any bill to the top court since he was elected as head of state in 2007.

Gül will approve the law without appealing to the top court but “will emphasize his reservations once again through a public statement,” according to sources.
Speaking to Anatolia news agency, Sports and Youth Minister Suat Kılıç refused yesterday to describe Parliament’s insistence on the law as an attempt to face off with Gül but added that the ruling party would not propose changes to the draft.

The bill, which was approved with the votes of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), calls for a reduction in the sentences of match fixers from between five and 12 years to between one and three years. The amendment will affect an ongoing prosecution into one of the most important rigging cases in the country’s history, which involves Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım and other senior football figures.

Gül’s veto was welcomed by prominent figures such as Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, who said the government would not resend it to the Presidency. A day after he issued his support, however, deputy parliamentary group leader Nurettin Canikli called all parties to stay united to protect the will of the Parliament and said they would not make any amendments to the bill.

However, Arınç was echoed by another minister yesterday. Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı defended Gül’s choice to veto the amendment and said there was a need to discuss the content of the law, according to daily Akşam.

Parliament’s three biggest parties approved the bill in the wake of a probe that was launched in July and resulted in a total of 31 football figures, including Yıldırım and Beşiktaş coach Tayfur Havutçu, being jailed pending trial.

Gül’s veto last week inflamed a political debate in the capital, causing a deep rift between the president and his former political party for the first time.