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December 16, 2012, Sunday

As the state tries itself

  Turkey has been witnessing some historic and important cases and investigations. One of the most important of these is the Ergenekon case, where part of the deep state is being tried; reports indicate that the legal proceedings are approaching an end. This was followed by the Balyoz case, which is investigating attempts by military officers to stage a coup.

There are some other historic cases similar to these.

Public opinion on these cases is split into two. In fact, this division reflects the political alignments. In general, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voters support the trials, whereas the Republican People's Party (CHP) and their supporters oppose the trials and support the defendants. They argue that these cases were fabricated by the AK Party to intimidate the opposition.

Speaking to the Akşam daily, former rapporteur of the Constitutional Court and member of the executive decision board of the AK Party Osman Can said: “Now the state or the state's approach is being put on trial because the Turkish judiciary, which has not undergone any significant reform, is unable to adequately handle this. It is likely that mistakes have been made.”

This statement touches on the epicenter of this process. True, we are witnessing an era where the state is putting the deep state on trial. Clandestine structures within the state that the state created but which acted independent of it to commit crimes are now being tried. In a country which has such clandestine organizations that reorganize themselves into “assassination teams” as evidenced by the murders of Hrant Dink and former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, we are expecting the same judiciary to try its own logic and that this would be free of any problems. It is extremely unlikely.  

Can further says: “The former judicial system would not acknowledge any trial where the state would be considered the defendant. If it had, there would not have been coups on May 27, 1960, March 12, 1970, Sept. 12, 1980, Feb. 28, 1997 and on April 27, 2007. For this reason, I believe that arguments suggesting that some procedural mistakes have been made should be taken into consideration because the judicial system in Turkey has problems. It is not entirely fixed. We are trying to fix these problems by reform packages.”  

This should be something really important for those who would like to see the deep state being tried because where justice is flawed, regardless of the content the process will be open to distraction, leading to chaos and distrust. In other words, the government is responsible for changing the tires while driving the car fast.  

Significant changes that affected the judiciary were made in the 2010 constitutional referendum. Institutions like the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) were made to resemble those of a pluralistic system; their structure was democratized. The tension between the people and these ideologically statist institutions has been significantly removed. But Can says, “It is not correct to believe that judges have changed and become new individuals just because a referendum was approved by the people.” Quite rightly, he states that thousands of ideologically motivated judges and prosecutors are still in charge and further warns that there has been no significant change between the previous and new systems. The perception that nothing has changed is particularly strong in ideological, ethnic and cultural minorities, as well as with former dominant groups. This is a problem, and it should be resolved. Otherwise, previous mistakes will be repeated and a great opportunity will be missed.

Previous articles of the columnist