Plans to scrap Turkey’s special courts
TURKEY ruling AK Party (Justice and Development Party) plans to abolish widely criticised special courts used in the trials of alleged coup plotters, a parliament official told Reuters on Wednesday, making the future of the politically sensitive cases uncertain.
A series of trials investigating hundreds of people accused of links to coup plots or Kurdish militants would be affected by the reform.
Critics of the courts say the trials, one of which is a conspiracy case involving hundreds of military officers, have spiralled out of control and been used to stifle dissent. Many defendants have spent years in custody with no verdict in sight.
Since first coming to power in 2002, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party has been sharply at odds with the staunchly secular military, which distrusted the prime minister’s Islamist past. The special authority courts, established by Erdogan’s government in 2005 to replace state security courts, have pursued cases against alleged anti-government plots within the secularist establishment, including the officer corps.
On of the most prominent case started in 2007 when police said they had uncovered an ultra-nationalist network, called Ergenekon, running plots against Erdogan’s government.
Many of the hundreds of suspects rounded up and held in lengthy pre-trial detention belong to the military. Others included academics, journalists and social activists.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag is leading a commission working on the court reform and AK Party legal experts are examining how the coup-related cases would then be heard, the Hurriyet daily said.
Hurriyet, which did not identify its source, said special authority courts would be replaced by a regional court structure to deal with crimes such as coup-plotting and terrorism. It was not immediately clear how this would affect the ongoing cases.
Erdogan previously criticised special prosecutors for acting as if they were “a different power within the state” and said the courts had been useful at times but also harmful, noting public discontent at the way they had worked.—Reuters