Justice is a serious business

Justice is a serious business

It was commonly attributed to a duel between the all-powerful Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Fettullah Gülen Islamist brotherhood. It was, of course, awkward for a prosecutor to invite for questioning the chief of the Turkish intelligence service (MİT), on the grounds that he and some of his agents might have violated law as they conducted “secret” talks with the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist gang.

Within a few days a special law was prepared and enacted by Parliament after less than four hours of debate, granting the premier blanket power to “save from justice” civil servants acting on his orders. It was no surprise for those who are aware of the “What we do is always correct; if somehow what we do is not correct, then the first rule still applies” mindset of Erdoğan and his Islamist-political clan, the Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

Obviously, in no democracy can there be such a joke of giving the prime minister an above-the-law status, or the power of deciding singlehandedly what is a crime and what is not. In places where there is validity of the principle of the supremacy of law, the code is applied to all and all are equal before of law. Turkey has always been a peculiar democracy; under Erdoğan it has became a far more peculiar one.

As one would expect, if crime is exposed it is the duty of prosecutors to bring the issue in front of court. If it was leaked to the media that some MİT agents and the head of the agency were acting in violation of the Turkish penal code, no one should have had a second thought as to why the prosecutor demanded that the MİT chief and his staff give an account of their deeds at court.

Such actions might be needed by the state. It might be – and most probably is – just routine for the secret service to go beyond the limits of law and engage in some “secret” illegality in order to achieve some greater national security services. But, whatever great interests such actions might serve for the country, if - for whatever reason - such acts are revealed prematurely and thus criminality is exposed, judicial action must be taken.

As many readers will recall, not only was a special law to save the MİT boss and his staff hastily legislated by the AKP’s parliamentary majority, the prosecutor who demanded the investigation was sacked as well. Now, we have learned that the succeeding prosecutor has filed a petition with the premier demanding his permission to bring to justice the MİT boss and the accused agents. Erdoğan has already displayed in all clarity that he will not approve a trial of the MİT chief and his staff. Thus, the only bullet in the pistol of the prosecutor is to override the judicial shield provided by the premier by carrying the issue to the Council of State.

Hold your breath! Just imagine what has happened to the Council of State department that would examine the congruousness of the shield provided by the prime minister to the MİT boss and agents? Naturally, one should not take any meaning out of the appointment of a former teacher and cousin of the prime minister as member of that Council of State department just a year ago. Erdoğan obviously could not know that he would need the vote of his cousin. Such an appointment by the government could not be considered nepotism either.

What bothers me nowadays is why three members of that Council of State department were replaced on almost the same dates as the AKP majority was hastily granting the premier with a special law, giving him blanket power to “save from justice” civil servants acting on his orders. What a coincidence?