Turkish president to have final say for prosecution of intel chief

Turkish president to have final say for prosecution of intel chief

Turkish president to have final say for prosecution of intel chief

MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan speaks with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during the eighth Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Summit in Ankara last February. HÜRRİYET Photo

In investigations involving the chief of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT), the president will have the final say over whether he or she will be tried, according to an amendment in a controversial new draft law.

The proposal for the amendment was introduced by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies during a General Assembly session on April 16, when the draft law expanding the MİT’s powers was being debated.

Accordingly, a number of provisions in the article regarding the trial procedure for military persons before the Supreme Council, which is part of the Law on the Establishment and Trial Procedures of Military Courts, will be applied in investigations involving the MİT undersecretary.

Thus, in the event of an attempted prosecution, the MİT undersecretary will be able to appeal to the president within 10 days and object to being prosecuted. The president’s subsequent decision about whether or not to continue with the prosecution will be final.

The Supreme Council is the name that the Constitutional Court takes on when trying ministers and senior members of the judiciary.

A draft outlining amendments in the Military Law and adopted by Parliament in February also paved the way for the trial of the chief of General Staff and the commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Forces at the Supreme Council.

When they receive any tip-off or complaint about MİT members regarding their assignments or activities, prosecutors will notify the MİT undersecretariat. If the undersecretariat determines that the issue is involved with its own assignments or activities, then no other legal operation will be taken and the related persons will not be taken into custody.

Trigger event

Motivation for the latest moves seems to date back to February 2012, when a crisis erupted after a specially authorized prosecutor summoned MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan and four other MİT officials to testify in the ongoing investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), on the grounds that some MİT members who had infiltrated the KCK had exceeded their authority in their duties.

Fidan had attended talks between MİT officials and representatives of the outlawed PKK at a time when he was a special adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The contact was held abroad between 2009 and 2011 in a series of meetings publicly known as the “Oslo talks.” The talks collapsed after a PKK attack killed 13 soldiers near Diyarbakır in July 2011.

At the time of the investigation, Erdoğan claimed that he himself was in fact the target. Parliament then passed a hastily drafted bill, which required the prime minister’s permission to investigate any MİT official or any individual assigned special duties by the prime minister, in order to protect top intelligence officials from judicial probes.

Many pundits at the time suggested the incident was the result of a power struggle in the bureaucracy and the judiciary between the movement of reclusive Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen and supporters of the prime minister.