Special courts to be restricted to ‘terror’

Special courts to be restricted to ‘terror’

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Special courts to be restricted to ‘terror’

A suspect leaves the courthouse after being interrogated in a special court. AA photo

Under pressure from international human rights organizations, the government is planning to narrow the scope of the special-authority courts solely to crimes committed by armed terror organizations.

A draft law amending Article 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is expected to be submitted to Parliament in the coming days, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin told reporters at Parliament late Tuesday. This will come as part of the third judicial reform package, with the fourth one having to wait until the opening of Parliament on Oct. 1.

Ergin said there would be a number of amendments to the article, but declined to give details. According to information gathered by the Hürriyet Daily News, the operations of courts and prosecutors with special powers will be limited. Contrary to current implementation, they will no longer be able to prosecute suspects other than those related to terror crimes. However, the government is not considering the full removal of these courts.

In addition, the amendment will also bring about precautions to keep ongoing cases like Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) unaffected in a move to ease concerns in many circles that the amendments will weaken the prosecution process and eventually cause the release of those accused.

“I hope this [third package] will be discussed at the General Assembly,” Ergin said, adding that he was hoping to see it passed by Parliament before the end of June, when Parliament goes into recess.

The special-authority courts have long been under fire over controversial practices that have come into the spotlight, especially in the handling of the high-profile investigations into the Ergenekon and Balyoz coup plots.