The Turkish justice system is no Hercules
Turkish courts are overwhelmed by the load of post-coup trials and indictments. According to one lawyer, it is as if a secret government official had ordered the courts to finish the cases and announce the verdict before a certain deadline. Elections are coming and that deadline may be closer than ever.
Former Lieutenant General Metin İyidil is one of the top soldiers on trial. In an open letter to Turkish armed Forces (TSK) top soldier Gen. Hulusi Akar, İyidil has asked why Akar is not putting his word behind his men in uniform. “Why have you not read my defense even once Commander?” İyidil asked. “We have done a lot together to fight the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ]. You know how much I fought that night [July 15], our telephone conversations are out in the open. The civilian court may not have understood them, but why don’t you at least make an effort to correct these mistakes?”
Lt. Gen. İyidil is just one of the hundreds of high ranking soldiers who are behind bars on grounds of hearsay, gossip and prejudice. I have been following the trials of young Air Force Academy students who have been forced to come to Istanbul from a mandatory camp in Yalova on the night of the coup. These young soldiers between the ages of 19 and 22 are on trial again this week. The judges are almost rushing to get their defenses so they can announce the verdict. Life in prison has been sentenced at least twice in cases of students and the judges are too afraid to even ask for evidence in favor of the defendants, of whom some had not even fired a single bullet that night.
Ankara’s lawyers, representing the prime minister, the president and numerous Justice and Development Party (AK Party) heavyweights sit on the bench of the audience and lawyer to keep an eye on judges. They bring busloads of AK Party faithfuls to put pressure on the courtroom. These village and city representatives sometimes get into harsh dialogues with students, soldiers and their families.
There are hundreds of cases waiting to be opened and the judiciary is no Hercules. These are our prosecutors and our judges. They have daily fears of retribution or of being downgraded or labeled as “pro-FETÖ.” It is our duty to protect our judiciary and its integrity. Politics should take their hands off the bench and let justice be served. Most indictments are copy and paste versions of similar cases. In some instances, there are embarrassing mistakes of names, dates. Turkey has done nothing to deserve this carelessness. In the end, the high and the mighty people of today may need justice for themselves as well one day.
9,103 police officers’ pleas
A year ago on April 26, an SD card carrying the names and affiliations of 9,103 police officers was “mysteriously” found and became part of an investigation in the Interior Ministry. It was a list that looked exactly like what FETÖ would have produced. Yet, these police officers were put on hold and falsely labeled. Their names and social security numbers were listed on internet sites and they are now possible targets of terror groups. It is time the government corrects this horrendous mistake, completes its deep security check and invites the officers back to service.