December 23, 2014

GYV President Yeşil: Judiciary under full control of executive is threat to freedom

Mustafa Yeşil, the president of the Journalists and Writers Foundation's (GYV), said in a TV interview on Monday evening that the reshuffling of prosecutors and judges after the Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 corruption operations created a judiciary under the full control of the executive power, which threatens freedoms.

Talking to Samanyolu TV news editor Metin Yıkar on Monday, Yeşil said that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government claims an attempted coup was carried out against it, but a takeover can also be waged by a stronger group against a weaker one, as was seen during the reshuffling of the judiciary.

At the time the corruption investigations became public, then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the Hizmet movement, a civil society movement inspired by the views of Turkish Islamic Scholar Fethullah Gülen, of plotting to overthrow his government.

Many of President Erdoğan's ministers, as well as businessmen who are close allies of the AK Party government, were accused of graft during investigations that became public on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013. The prosecutors conducting the investigation later sought to detain more people in connection with the investigation but were prevented from doing so by the government. The investigation has since been stonewalled as a result of government efforts to silence the issue. Erdoğan portrayed the graft allegations as part of a coup plot against him, although he hasn't produced any evidence to support his claims.

Talking about the unlawful implementations of the judiciary during the operations against the media on Dec. 14, Yeşil said that the detentions and arrests are in violation of the law. According to Yeşil, the unlawful arrests not only threaten the freedom of these first accused but are moreover a threat to the freedom of all people living in this country, arguing that if the judiciary has become a tool of repression that can be used at will, then everyone will ultimately become its victim.

Stating that the executive power should never interfere in the judiciary, Yeşil said it is difficult to talk about freedoms, fair trials and basic rights when the judiciary takes orders from the executive.

Yeşil emphasized that the accusations made in the government-orchestrated operation against police officers, high-level media members and directors and producers of a popular television serial on Dec. 14, lack strong evidence and make a mockery of the judiciary, particularly when a television drama can be used as evidence to arrest a journalist.

The İstanbul 1st Criminal Court of Peace ruled on Dec. 19 to arrest Samanyolu Broadcasting Group (STV) General Manager Hidayet Karaca and three former police officers on allegations of being members of an armed terrorist group. Karaca refused to defend himself before the court as he viewed it as lacking impartiality and independence.

Published on Today's Zaman, 23 December 2014, Tuesday