World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey's president said on Thursday urgent judicial reform was needed, as tensions rose between the government and militant secularists embedded in the judiciary.
President's warning also comes amid the speculations that Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals may launch a new closure case against the ruling AK party over PKK surrenders.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul expressed his regret over recent discussions about judiciary, saying, "this is a vicious circle. Turkey should get itself out of it quickly. We need a judicial reform to end this. And we should refrain from anything that could further deepen this vicious circle while making the judicial reform."
Erzincan Chief Public Prosecutor Ilhan Cihaner was arrested for pulling the trigger in Erzincan regarding the Ergenekon coup probe.
Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) which claimed that there was an "abuse of powers" in the case, has gone beyond its powers.
The alleged criminal network that came to be known as "Ergenekon" was revealed after police seized 27 grenades, TNT explosives and fuses in a shanty house in Istanbul on June 12, 2007 and Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation into weapons.
KSYK revoked special powers of the prosecutors of Erzurum in a rush, moreover, a criminal complaint was filed about them. Such stroke on the judiciary power raised the tension in Ankara.
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin harshly criticized HSYK, which cut off the prosecutors' powers.
Ergin said HSYK had gone beyond the borders of law. "The board acted against the constitution and displayed a usurpation of authority," he said.
HSYK is known for its opposition to the ruling AK Party.
"Path of referendum always open"
President Gul said at a joint news conference with President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania who is currently paying a state visit to Turkey, "Turkey is holding full membership negotiations with the European Union. And we should undertake the Union's acquis, criteria and standards about judiciary. All our political parties should develop an unprejudiced cooperation to make this reform."
Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc accused the judicial bureaucracy of dealing a severe blow to democracy and called the board's decision unacceptable.
Arinc said the AK Party, which ended the secularists' decades-old grip on power in 2002 and has a huge majority in parliament, might call a referendum to change the constitution.
Previous government efforts to change Turkey's military-drafted constitution have been blocked by the secularist opposition.
"Changes have been made in the past to the constitution. After this (HSYK decision) another constitutional amendment can be made. The path of referendum is always open. A constitutional amendment is mathematically and logically possible," he said.
New closure case?
The statement of Chief Prosecutor's Office of the Supreme Court of Appeals, which examined the allegations over PKK surrenders at Habur border gate and the latest developments in Erzurum & Erzincan, was associated by the recent rumors in Ankara on "a new closure case".
Erdogan's government hopes broadening Kurdish rights will help end the conflict with the outlawed PKK. More than 40,000 people have died since the PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.
Supreme Court's Chief Public Prosecutor announced Wednesday that "it launched a criminal investigation into alleged misconduct of Erzincan and Erzurum prosecutors and the prosecutors who took testimonies of the PKK members who surrendered at the Habur gate."
34 members of PKK from Makhmour refugee camp and Qandil Mountain surrendered to Turkish authorities at Habur border gate within government's Kurdish opening.
The main Opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) also submitted a censure motion on the legal proceedings in Habur against the interior minister.
The Ministry of Interior was assigned with the coordination of Kurdish opening.
The Interior Ministry had denied the claims in a statement that read: “The Turkish Republic is a state governed by the rule of law. All legal procedures vis-à-vis the returning group were carried out by independent judicial bodies in accordance with their authority. No interference came from our ministry.”
"Recent discussions should not lead to a new polarization in our country. The issues of justice, judiciary and law should be discussed under objective criteria and the highest standards. I believe that we should undertake EU standards as soon as possible," President Gul added.
Turkish Daily Radikal cited a comment of a senior AKP official what would happen if a closure case was filed.
"In such a case, no one should expect us to put our head in the guillotine of the Constitutional Court. We will first explain the situation to the public and we will apply to public's court. If a closure case is filed, we will immediately go for (early) elections," the official said.
But, Arinc on Thursday said there were no plans to call an early election, referring to the speculation that the government might call an early vote. Polls are due in 2011.
AKP sruvived an earlier closure case attempt in 2008. The Constitutional Court ruled not to close down the ruling AK Party, but it decided to deprive the party of the financial assistance that it would receive from the state.
Related news reports:Last Mod: 18 Şubat 2010, 15:35