May 6, 2015

Things have gone completely mad

Erhan Başyurt

Judge Metin Özçelik, who accepted the motion for a change of Istanbul Criminal Courts of Peace judges, and Mustafa Başer, who ordered the release of Hidayet Karaca and 62 police officers upon that decision, were suspended and eventually arrested with lightning speed.

For the first time in world history, judges were arrested for their “legal and personal convictions.”

“The legal guaranty of judges,” a sine qua non of judicial independence, was virtually destroyed.

All legal authorities, bar associations, and sitting judges oppose the arrests.

The remark “it puts the final nail in the coffin of judicial security” from the Association of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV) summarizes the issue well.

Author and journalist Ahmet Altan says, “Those ordered to be released are not arrestees anymore but captives. Judges were arrested for their rulings. There weren’t such things even in Nazi Germany.”

Even [pro-government] Yeni Şafak’s columnist Ali Bayramoğlu criticizes the arrest of judges yesterday, saying “Turkey, the AK Party, and the members of judiciary should immediately correct that mistake.”

There are charges but no evidence.

Criticisms from politicians after the rulings of arrested judges and the ensuing unlawfulness show that politicization of the judiciary reached deep into all its layers and that impartiality and independence were gone.

The judges are charged with being members of an “armed terrorist group.” But their lawyers say the detention order does not specify which terrorist group they are allegedly involved with. There is no information about the alleged group, its leader and members, or its armed attacks.

There was no lawful surveillance before the ruling about the judges and no one was caught in the act, either. In other words, the authorities thought “let’s arrest you first, we will fabricate evidence and create the basis later.”

However, both judges had to handle the cases after a ruling by Criminal Judge of Peace İslam Çiçek and the practice of the Istanbul 9th High Criminal Court. They were assigned this duty by the Istanbul Justice Committee. That is to say, there was no special effort or decision here.

This is a dark period.

Moreover, the 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance Judge had previously rejected the release request of one of the arrested police officers, on the grounds that “legal requirements were not met.”

The judge, who had not been criticized at that time, was charged with being member of a “terrorist group” since he examined the file and ruled for the release of arrestees after the motion for a change of Criminal Courts of Peace judges was accepted.

Whereas, the Supreme Court Assembly of Criminal Chambers rules that judges and prosecutors can be tried – for any reason whatsoever – only by the High Court of Appeals.

It’s simply a scandal!

These two judges are kept in Silivri Prison without “evidence, ground, or suspicion of escape” just as those 63 arrestees who were not released, despite a court decision.

Declaring the release verdict null and void, and arresting the judges, indicate what kind of dark period Turkey is experiencing.

“Things have gone completely mad!” No need to say more.

Published on BGNNews, 06 May 2015, Wednesday