May 7, 2015

Arrested judge says no sermon, just rule of law and conscience guidance

Judge Mustafa Başer, who was arrested on audacious terror charges after following standard procedure and ordering the release of a jailed media boss and officers last week, issues an open letter to the public denouncing the case against him.

The legal saga became a full blown scandal when Bakırköy’s 2nd High Criminal Court ordered the arrest of the Istanbul 29th Court of First Instance Judge Metin Özçelik and Istanbul 32nd Court of First Instance Judge Mustafa Başer last Thursday. Both are being tried for ‘attempting to destroy the Turkish government’ and ‘being members of an armed terrorist group.’ Başer’s crime was ordering the release Samanyolu Broadcast Group CEO Hidayet Karaca and dozens of police officers, all under arrest over similar terror charges, and accusation of being a member of the ”parallel state” a term coined by President Erdoğan himself in describing the Gülen Movement, consisting of followers and sympathizers of Islamic Scholar Fethullah Gülen. The judge’s statement was not even taken, nor was any probable evidence.

In his letter, read out by lawyers Hacer Yılmaz and Celal Sis on Wednesday, Başer expressed he had no connection whatsoever with Fethullah Gülen and only had seen him in the media as everyone else, adding that the only guiding principle behind his rulings was his conscience, and professionalism. He said that all judicial bodies who took part in the legal developments leading to his arrest had openly violated the European Convention of the Human Rights and article 282 and clause 88 of the Turkish Constitution.

“I have become the first judge in history to have been arrested over a ruling I made,” expressed Judge Başer, adding, “the sorrow I feel for my country’s status on democracy and rule of law in the face of the world, is much more than my arrest for the sake of independent judiciary. At least I would be able to look into the eyes of my wife, mother, father and my children with pride and conscience. What will become of you, my dear colleagues, who took part in this process? Will you be able to look into the eyes of your children?”

On Monday, Yılmaz had lambasted the head of the court’s haphazard argument, saying that the so-called terror group, which was not even named, was based entirely on a four minute sermon delivered by Fethullah Gülen. The sermon was not even successfully transcribed, due to the fact that neither the police nor the head of the court could understand some of the words. Furthermore there was nothing in the sermon “that would implicate any order or superiority over our client or the other arrested individual Metin Özçelik, or inference to the ruling [the recusation or release] they have made.”

Judge Başer lambasted the Gülen connection allegations, stating, “I have never seen in person, or met Fethullah Gülen nor even listened to one of his sermons. I only have seen him on the news,” stated Judge Başer, in his letter, adding, “I had never heard the mentioned sermon before it was read in questioning… I have no say over who chooses to pray and how. Never mind the presumption that I would receive orders from a sermon I have never heard, if anyone were to directly come to me in person concerning my rulings, I would immediately make a record of the incident and would file a criminal complaint. I would never endanger my career or put my children in a difficult situation for the sake of anyone’s personal comfort.”

On Monday Yılmaz had emphasized that an application to challenge the case had been filed to the High Court of Appeals, “Let’s see if procedure is applied fair and legally. Up until now it hasn't... There is no law or procedure in any country which would justify the arrest of a judge over a ruling he made,” expressed the lawyer.

Published on BGNNews, 06 May 2015, Wednesday