Turkish PM to decide courts’ fate after consultation

Turkish PM to decide courts’ fate after consultation

Turkish PM to decide courts’ fate after consultation

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The ruling party officials yesterday met with opposition parties to have their opinions on the specially authorized courts before finalizing an amendment aimed at curbing the courts’ broad rights.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has the final word on the planned amendments before it can be legislated on June 30.

The content of the amendment on articles 250 and 251 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK) was expected to be finalized at a meeting led by Prime Minister Erdoğan late yesterday before it could be legislated in Parliament on June 30, the last day of the legislative year.

Before the meeting, Mahir Ünal, deputy parliamentary group leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) contacted the three opposition parties to get their opinions on the amendments.

“The specially authorized courts contradict the principle of rule of law. But certain crimes require strong tools to fight against them. Full abolishment of [the courts] is not very likely,” was the message delivered by Ünal to the oppositional parties, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) said the specially authorized courts should be fully abolished, while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) defended them on the grounds that there was a need to address terror-related crimes.

The specially authorized courts have long been under fire for controversial practices, especially their handling of the high-profile investigations into the Ergenekon and “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) coup plots. A call from prosecutors with special authority for National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan to testify about secret talks with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in February became a breaking point for the ruling AKP. Erdoğan subsequently accused the specially authorized courts of “going too far,” saying: “He was instructed by me. If you want to take someone [to prosecute], then take me,” in televised remarks June 6.

There is reportedly discomfort at the fact that the number of arrested generals has now reached nearly more than 100. Former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ has also been arrested as part of the Ergenekon probe, disturbing both the military and government officials.

On June 23, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel paid a visit to Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin to discuss the content of the amendments, daily Taraf reported. The ministry confirmed the meeting but denied the reported content.