Turkish top court head approves of early release for terror suspects
A one-year period for the implementation of a new ruling to reduce the maximum length of detention from 10 years to five for terrorism suspects does not need to be applied if judges decide otherwise, the head of the Constitutional Court Haşim Kılıç says. DHA photoA one-year period for the implementation of a new ruling to reduce the maximum length of detention from 10 years to five for terrorism suspects does not need to be applied if judges decide otherwise, according to the head of the Constitutional Court.
“Though the 10-year rule is still in force for another year, judges can decide to release [detainees],” Haşim Kılıç told Turkish daily Milliyet.
Kılıç said the Constitutional Court had decided June 4 that the article of the Turkish Penal Code allowing up to 10 years of detention for suspects prosecuted on terror charges was against the Constitution and that the article was abrogated with unanimity.
The court had decided that the new ruling would enter into force a year from the publication of the decision on the Official Gazette, while also giving the government a year to change the provision.
“This period is for the legislative power to make the necessary amendment if it needs one. The Parliament may or may not make new changes within this period. This is linked to the needs of the legislative power,” Kılıç said, referring to the one-year period for the government to make the necessary changes after the matter was published in the Official Gazette. “[Parliament] does not need to wait a year, it can [make the necessary changes] right away.”
Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bülent Arınç said they could consider legislation if needed, but the courts could implement the decision by themselves “just like they have been doing until today” because the 10-year period was an upper limit that the courts did not need to use until the end.
“This upper limit should not be exceeded. Other than that, courts can always decide to release [detainees] looking at what the suspects are accused of,” Arınç said after a Cabinet meeting on June 8. “They do not have to wait for 10 years.”
Arınç said the decision would provide information on the details of the court’s ruling. Bekir Bozdağ, deputy prime minister, said July 8 that while the court had annulled the 10-year period, it had not decreased it to five years. Bozdağ said the decision pointed out that there could be a reasonable and moderate period in between the two periods.
Upon the Constitutional Court’s ruling, lawyers for 12 Ergenekon alleged coup case suspects petitioned the Çağlayan Courthouse on July 5 to demand the release of their clients. Suspects who are prosecuted on terror charges have been under arrest for more then five years. The group of 12 includes the leader of the Workers’ Party (İP) Doğu Perinçek, journalist and İP member Hikmet Çiçek, retired Brig. Gen. Veli Küçük and the spokeswoman for the Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate, Sevgi Erenerol.