Huge overhaul in crucial cases shakes Turkey

Huge overhaul in crucial cases shakes Turkey

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Huge overhaul in crucial cases shakes Turkey

This photo taken from a video footage shows prosecutors and judges working in Istanbul’s Çağlayan courthouse in line to say goodbye to visiting HSYK members. DHA photo

The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) staged a major judicial overhaul yesterday, removing specially authorized prosecutors from major coup cases and reassigning them to higher offices amid a continued debate over special-authority courts.

Chief Ergenekon prosecutor Cihan Kansız and chief “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) prosecutor Savaş Kırbaş were both reassigned as Istanbul deputy chief public prosecutors. The top prosecutor in the match-fixing case, Mehmet Berk, was reassigned as Küçükçekmece’s deputy chief prosecutor.

The chief judge in the Hrant Dink case, Rüstem Eryılmaz, was reassigned to Istanbul’s Bakırköy district while the chief judge in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case, Menderes Yılmaz, was reassigned to the Aegean province of İzmir from Diyarbakır.

The moves can be interpreted as both promotions and punishments.

Kansız was appointed head of the judiciary’s Ergenekon investigation last year, replacing Zekeriya Öz, who was reassigned in the wake of controversy over the arrests of journalists in connection to the coup-plot case.

Former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ called for testimony by Kansız on Jan. 6 in connection with the ongoing Internet Memorandum case. Başbuğ was arrested on the grounds that he was “leading a terrorist organization,” and critics have said Başbuğ’s arrest was a “breaking point” for the government over special-authority courts.

Judges in the KCK case, which is the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), have also come under fire because their suspects were not permitted to issue pleas in their mother tongue. The case has remained deadlocked for months.

In fresh comments on the issue, Berk said he demanded to be reassigned as a deputy prosecutor within Istanbul. Kansız and Kırbaş also demanded to be reassigned as deputy chief prosecutors, sources said.

Ömer Faruk Eminağaoğlu, a former prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Appeals and the founding president of the Judges and Prosecutors’ Association (YARSAV), an organization that has fiercely criticized the Ergenekon investigation on a number of occasions, was reassigned to Çankırı from Istanbul. He had been reassigned from the Supreme Court of Appeals to Istanbul last year.