An exemplary verdict by the top court
The Constitutional Court has served government a lesson in law, as well as in justice by ordering “Sledgehammer” retrial. After “democracy to my liking” the ruling political Islamists of Turkey wanted to have “justice to my liking” by overhauling the entire judicial apparatus of the country, changing the structure of the high courts, making the justice minister the lord of all judges and prosecutors. It ain’t working any longer.
The chubby ruling party spokesman might come up and say “all these Constitutional Court verdicts became possible because of the right to individual appeal to high court we provided in the 2010 constitutional amendment.” Perfectly right, that was one of the rather few sugary elements coating all the poisonous content of the package so the nation could swallow it without noticing the venomous content. The result of yet another of those sugary coating articles was the one allowing the trial of former coup leaders. With that article in force, we achieved this week a landmark success: Former president, top commander and 1980 coup leader Kenan Evren was sentenced to life behind bars. He is 93. He can no longer walk without assistance and is suffering from some serious conditions brought on by his advanced age. Yet, he was sentenced to life. What a consolation to the victims of the 1980 coup!
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has made great contributions to this country. It is wrong to say it has been wrong all the way along. Particularly in its first term, up until 2005, it was indeed a government tearing down old taboos, lifting martial law, engaging in reforms previous governments would not even see in their dreams. But even in its first term, the AKP was an oppressive government, persistently inching from single party government toward a system based on an individual’s absolute rule. Persistent efforts to overhaul the Constitution and make it possible to unite the party leadership, head of government and head of state portfolios into one absolute ruler, thank God, have failed so far. Is the danger over? Probably so because after the Gezi incidents of last year – which still continue every day at some corner of the country in some form – the people have learned they can object to the altercative leadership style.
The post-2007 court cases – Ergenekon, Sledgehammer and others – aimed at domesticating the media, military, academia and intelligentsia. Claims were so lurid and charges were so scary that many people, including this writer, condemned the massive thousands-of-pages-thick indictments as “thriller” and eventually they were all proven right. These people were deprived of their freedom, banished to the Silivri concentration camp, subjected to a manipulated trial and sentenced. The end result? The top court said verdicts against them were not scientifically verified, properly gathered and thus their verdict was based on wishy-washy evidence, a retrial is needed. Well done!
What was the reason behind those thrillers? To garner support to “reforms,” ushering the country into a far more conservative “new Turkey” of the “new leader.” The entire saga was one of massive social manipulation.
In the meantime hundreds of young officers lost prospects of promotion in their profession, forced to retire or expelled from the military. Scores of commanders completed their waiting period in their ranks and had to bid farewell to the army. The Navy was left almost without an admiral. Why did all of these happen? Can anyone claim justice was served?
The defense attorneys of scores of inmates from the Sledgehammer thriller were at the doors of the courts yesterday asking for the discharge of their defendants as the top court invalidated evidence against them and ordered a retrial.
Well, with the 2010 amendment, the 1980 coup leaders were brought to trial and sentenced to life. What a great success!