Special courts abolished as Turkish President Gül signs law
ANKARA - Hürriyet
President Abdullah Gül (C) approved a law abolishing the notorious specially authorized courts, where the Balyoz and Ergenekon cases were held at.President Abdullah Gül approved a law March 6 abolishing the notorious specially authorized courts (ÖYM).
The ÖYMs were discontinued by Parliament in 2012, but a provisionary article allowed courts to finalize pending coup plot cases, such as: Ergenekon, “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer), OdaTV and Poyrazköy. From now on, the eight ÖYMs that convicted soldiers in mass trials in 2012 and 2013 will be abolished and their case files will be passed on to regular criminal courts.
The law, which was adopted by Parliament as part of a new democratization package, came just a few days after the eventful voting session on the bill restructuring the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which increased the government’s control over the judicial body and gave it a key role in appointments.
The law, which abolishes the ÖYMs and other special courts authorized by anti-terror laws, while also reducing the limit of lengthy detentions to five years, has widely been considered part of the government’s battle against “counter forces” – followers of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, many of whom have been employed through the judicial and security bureaucracy.
A graft probe in mid-December, which involved the sons of three former ministers and businesspersons known to have been close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), triggered a series of legislation changes led by the government, particularly in the judicial field, as it aimed to contain damage from the corruption and bribery operation.
Some observers suggested the ÖYM move, paving the way for retrials, could help Erdoğan gain support from more secular parts of the establishment, as he deals with the perceived threat from his former ally Gülen.
The specially authorized courts were established by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in 2004 as part of reforms concerning the EU membership bid, replacing the infamous State Security Courts (DGM).
President Gül recently approved a government-led controversial Internet bill and HSYK legislation.
The ÖYMs were discontinued by Parliament in 2012, but a provisionary article allowed courts to finalize pending coup plot cases such as Ergenekon, Balyoz, OdaTV and Poyrazköy.
Abolishing the provisionary article and the anti-terror courts was included in a proposal by the head of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB), Metin Feyzioğlu, to retry coup plot cases. The measure is also expected to “clear the way” for an internal restructuring of the judiciary as well as for hundreds of military officers jailed for plotting coups to be retried. Under the amendments, the eight ÖYMs that convicted soldiers in mass trials in 2012 and 2013 will be abolished and their case files passed to regular criminal courts.