Turkish gov’t vows to take action against judges and prosecutors board

Turkish gov’t vows to take action against judges and prosecutors board

Turkish gov’t vows to take action against judges and prosecutors board

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç speaks during a press statement on Dec. 30.

The ongoing fight between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Fethullah Gülen community is entering a new phase as the government said it was working on a legal plan against wrongdoers in the judiciary, an overt reference to pro-Gülen judges and prosecutors.

“Not only with regard to the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors [HSYK], but our Justice Ministry will do whatever necessary – legal or judicial – against those who are in the wrong and causing chaos in Turkey by leaking confidential information about investigations and by distributing statements in front of the courthouse,” Bülent Arınç, a deputy prime minister and the government’s spokesman, told reporters Dec. 30 following a weekly Cabinet meeting. 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and senior government officials have been harshly criticizing the judiciary and some prosecutors over an ongoing corruption and graft probe that has implicated Cabinet members, ultimately resulting in last week’s resignations of the economy, interior and urban planning ministers. The government believes the corruption operation is being carried out by pro-Gülen community prosecutors and judges. 

The fight was extended to the judiciary last week as the Council of State suspended the implementation of a governmental decree that hinders the secrecy of investigations. As the suspension came just a day after the HSYK’s intervention that said the decree was unconstitutional, the government directed all of its attention to the structure of the board, which was approved after a referendum in 2010. 

“There must be consequences to the HSYK’s move that ignored its own regulation,” Arınç said. 

Underlining that there was no check-and-balance system that could rein in the improprieties of the members of the judiciary, Arınç signaled that the government might reconsider the issue. 

Arınç echoed Erdoğan’s self-criticism that giving broad immunity to the members of the HSYK was “a mistake” and expressed his disappointment in the HSYK’s statement. “By increasing the number of its members from five to 22, we thought that we were making a democratic body. We regarded this as an important step toward democratization,” he said. 

Arınç said the government would take every necessary action against such illegal moves. “I can’t say at the moment whether a legal or constitutional change will be necessary. But whatever will be done, it will take place in the Parliament, the center of the national will.” 

There are three powers, the government spokesman said. “Both the legislative and the executive are under judicial control. But which power is controlling the judiciary?”