‘Regional’ fight against terror fatal blow to coup cases

June 28, 2012, Thursday/ 16:59:00/ BÜŞRA ERDAL

There are rumors that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government plans to replace specially authorized courts, which currently deal with crimes against the constitutional order and organized crime as well as terror and drug trafficking, with “regional courts.”

Such a replacement will, however, deal a serious blow to several ongoing cases in which hundreds of suspects stand trial on coup and terror charges.

According to reports in a number of newspapers, the regional courts will deal with terror cases, while crimes against the constitutional order, organized crime and drug trafficking will be dealt with by high criminal courts. If this happens, it will spell disaster for the ongoing coup and terror charges. Article 250 of the Turkish Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), which the government plans to revise soon, stipulates that specially authorized courts are entitled to deal with the trial of crimes committed by terror suspects, organized crime members and drug traffickers “through the use of force.” Regional courts, however, will hear cases against terror groups in line with Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Other crimes committed against the constitutional order and state security will be dealt with by high criminal courts. The problematic point here is the ambiguity over how prosecutors will be able to differentiate between terror crimes and crimes committed against the constitutional order or state security.

Currently, suspects who are under arrest on coup and terror accusations also stand accused of “committing crimes against the constitutional order.” For example, suspects in the Ergenekon case are accused both of terror crimes and attempting to stage a coup d'état, which is a crime against the constitutional court. It is unclear whether the regional courts will deal with these suspects on terror accusations or the suspects will be forwarded to high criminal courts on accusations of crime against the constitutional order.

Another instance is former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ, who is under arrest as part of an investigation into an anti-government plot. If CMK Article 250 is amended, the retired general will most probably ask to be tried by the Supreme State Council, and other suspects in the same investigation will ask to be tried by a high criminal court on coup accusations. Furthermore, prosecutors involved in the investigation will request that the case be held at a regional court because suspects are also accused of terror. If such a situation occurs, chaos within the judiciary will be inevitable.


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