December 14, 2015

Judge says ruled on Digitürk case in face of consequences

The judge who faced an inquiry after he ruled for a temporary injunction on the decision by satellite platform Digitürk to stop broadcasting seven TV stations critical of the government has said he decided to shoulder the consequences of delivering a difficult judgment for the sake of the law and his conscience.

Mustafa Çolaker, the judge of the Mersin 1st Consumer Court, recounted on, a social website used by jurists, the difficulties he faced before and after ruling for a temporary injunction against the decision by Digitürk to remove seven TV stations, including Bugün TV and Samanyolu that are known for their critical views of the government.

Çolaker said he was aware of the consequences of handing down a judgment in a case in favor of the critical TV channels and decided to shoulder the consequences for the sake of being in accordance with the law and his conscience.

“When I mentioned the issue [the Digitürk case] to my wife, she showed courage and maturity by advising me to do what the law and my conscience requires and said she was behind me. I am grateful to my wife for not letting me go down such a path alone,” Çolaker wrote.

The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) on Dec. 8 replaced Çolaker after his decision against Digitürk and transferred him to a court in Çorum province with temporary authority.

According to a story in the pro-government Yeni Şafak daily on Dec. 8, an inquiry was launched against Çolaker by the third chamber of the HSYK and inspectors were appointed to investigate the matter and prepare a report. After inspectors submitted their report to the HSYK's 3rd chamber, an investigation may be launched by the HSYK's 2nd chamber against Çolaker, Yeni Şafak said.

Defending his decision, Çolaker said the defendant Digitürk had broken its contract with those TV channels by removing them from its platform. In order to forestall any further immaterial damages for the plaintiff TV channels and force the defendant to abide by its contract, he ruled for a temporary injunction of Digitürk's decision, Çolaker said. He maintained Digitürk's decision was also a breach of people's right to information.

The Bugün TV, Kanaltürk, S. Haber and Samanyolu television channels have become targets of the government's crackdown for being seen as affiliated with the Gülen movement, a grassroots social initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuses the movement of instigating the massive corruption probes of Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, which implicated ministers in his government and even some of his family members.

‘I always use law, my conscience to guide me'

Çolaker said he has served as a judge for 13 years and has not aided any power groups or done anyone favors while handing down rulings. He added the law and his conscience have always guided him in his career.

After the government-backed Unity in the Judiciary Platform (YBP) won the 2014 HSYK elections and secured the majority of HSYK members, a number of judges and prosecutors who gave decisions disliked by the government circles, were either transferred or suspended from their duties. The HSYK also allowed investigations to be launched against tens of members of judiciary, including those who oversaw the graft probes in December 2013.

In a number of cases, the HSYK even decided to dismiss some of the judges and prosecutors, who oversaw different cases against members of the government and Erdoğan's close circles, and allowed them to be imprisoned for their rulings.

Final decision in Digitürk case to be delivered on Wednesday

Çolaker said the final decision on the Digitürk case will be made by the Mersin 1st Consumer Court on Wednesday. He also refuted claims he was aware of a previous case in which the court ruled in favor of Digitürk.

Published on Today's Zaman, 14 December 2015, Monday