MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK

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MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK
June 05, 2012, Tuesday

Judicial deformations

A plan by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government to revise an article that gives special authority to courts and prosecutors to investigate organized crime and coup plots continues to receive many reactions from columnists. Another plan that is claimed to be in the government’s new judicial reform package seeks to penalize journalists who report on voice recordings that have been secretly recorded and posted online with two to five years in prison. Columnists argue that the government should be careful in making the change to the article regarding specially authorized courts; and it should avoid the second change regarding voice recordings.

“What is the most important move from the AK Party government since it came to power? The answer to this question for everyone is that it paved the way for bringing coup plotters to court and weakened military tutelage. And what was the most important instrument the government used when accomplishing this move? It was specially authorized courts and prosecutors. So it goes without saying that the government is simply shooting itself in the foot with its latest efforts to abolish these courts or to reduce their authority. The only explanation for this might be that the country’s terrorism and military tutelage problems have already ended, and we no longer need these courts. But have they really ended?” Bugün’s Nuh Gönültaş asks in his article.

Akşam’s Nagehan Alçı says there are actually quite positive reforms in the government’s new judicial packages. In particular, the one concerning press crimes, which might pave the way for releasing jailed journalists, is a significant step towards press freedom. However, Alçı criticizes the article that seeks prison sentence for those who report on voice recordings and says mentioning the content of voice recordings in news reports has helped form public opinion about ongoing trials. For example, the latest voice recordings allegedly feature the voice of Rear Adm. Cem Aziz Çakmak, a jailed suspect in the Sledgehammer coup case, vowing to seek revenge against the government and to start a civil war once he gets released from prison; this has helped the public realize how big and horrible the suspects’ plans are. Sabah’s Nazlı Ilıcak relays some parts of three different voice recordings that have recently been released and says: “I relayed vengeful plans and projects of some jailed military officials. Can these plans be considered as personal talk? Also, these recordings were obtained by the press from websites such as dailymotion.com where these can be listened to by anyone.”

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