Erdogan blasts Turkiye’s top court, backs probe into judges

Erdogan blasts Turkiye’s top court, backs probe into judges
Erdogan blasts Turkiye’s top court, backs probe into judges

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - This handout photograph taken and released by Uzbekistan’s Presidential Press Service on November 9, 2023 shows Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan attending the 16th Economic Cooperation Organisation Summit in Tashkent. — Press Service of the President of Uzbekistan handout pic via AFP

ISTANBUL, Nov 10 — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today accused the country’s highest court of making repeated mistakes and defended an unprecedented criminal investigation against its judges.

Turkiye has been teetering on the edge of a judicial crisis due to a bitter clash between the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The dispute revolves around jailed lawyer Can Atalay — one of seven defendants sentenced last year to 18 years in prison as part of a highly controversial trial that also saw the award-winning philanthropist Osman Kavala jailed for life.

The 47-year-old Atalay was allowed to run from jail in May’s general election and was elected to parliament as a member of the leftist Workers’ Party of Turkiye (TIP).

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The Constitutional Court ruled last month that Atalay enjoyed immunity from prosecution granted to elected lawmakers and ordered the Supreme Court to reverse its earlier decision to keep the lawyer in jail.

The Supreme Court this week refused to comply and filed a criminal complaint against Constitutional Court judges who sided with Atalay.

Erdogan broke a two-day silence on the legal standoff by siding firmly with the Supreme Court.

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“At this point, unfortunately, the Constitutional Court has made many mistakes, one after another. This seriously saddens us,” he told Turkish reporters on board his return flight from a trip to Uzbekistan.

The powerful Turkish leader added that the Supreme Court’s request for prosecutors to investigate the Constitutional Court’s judges “cannot be thrown away or pushed aside”.

‘Threat of perverts’

Kavala was found guilty of trying to overthrow the constitutional order by allegedly funding a wave 2013 protests that posed the first serious challenge to Erdogan’s two-decade rule.

Atalay represented the legal defence team of the people involved in those protests.

Both men called the charges against them political and fictitious.

Erdogan suggested that Atalay could flee Turkiye if he is released.

“Unfortunately, similar things have happened before,” he said.

Turkiye’s parliament has previously voted to lift immunity from prosecution of opposition politicians — many of them Kurds — that the government views as “terrorists”.

“Our parliament also acts slowly on these issues. In other words, many terrorists escaped and went abroad because the process of lifting their immunity in parliament was dragging out,” Erdogan said.

“My country should not and cannot face the threat of perverts who have fled abroad.” — AFP

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