Lawyer Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu reiterates her call to the Council of Judges and Prosecutors to replace court panel ahead of re-trial

Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan’s lawyer has filed 16 petitions since 9 September 2019, urging the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) to replace the panel of the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which will be overseeing the retrial of the Altans case in October. 

After the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the aggravated life sentences given in February 2018 to Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak and their three co-defendants, the case was sent back to the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul for retrial, which set the date for the first hearing as 8 October 2019. The court had also ordered that Mehmet Altan, who was released from pre-trial detention in June 2018 under a Constitutional Court ruling, to be forcibly brought to the hearing. However, after lawyer Çalıkuşu filed an objection against her client “being forcibly brought” to the first hearing, the panel on duty of the 26th High Criminal Court had issued an interim decision on 24 July 2019, revoking the main panel’s decision concerning Mehmet Altan. Defending that the main panel has not been impartial since the very beginning of the trial, Çalıkuşu has been filing daily petitions with HSK since 9 September, requesting the assignment of a new panel.

Issuing a press statement on 23 September, when she filed the same petition for the 16th day in a row, Çalıkuşu said that the HSK was quick to launch an investigation against a judge who happened to pose in a photo with Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ, a Turkish actor, while it had kept silent concerning the objections she had been filing since 9 September 2019.

Çalıkuşu said: “We hope for the days where a judge having her photo taken with Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ is considered to be a greater crime than disregarding the Constitution come to an end soon.”

Referring to the Judicial Reform Package, which is expected to come into force in October, Çalıkuşu reminded that the Reform Package had been expected to offer solutions against the Constitutional Court and European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) findings of rights violations in the conduct of prosecutions by Turkish courts. Çalıkuşu asserted that, for the protection of fundamental rights and liberties, judges and prosecutors ought to abide by the judgments of the Constitutional Court and the ECtHR.

Criticizing HSK for not having issued a response against the complaints after all these days, Çalıkuşu said: 

“After Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ, the former presiding judge of the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, the court that repeatedly refused to implement the rulings of the Constitutional Court, was inspected by HSK, he was rewarded with a Supreme Court membership.”

“Even though we have filed complaints against the court panel of the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, where Kemal Selçuk Yalman serves as the presiding judge, the panel remains in place. What kind of a Judicial Reform Package can it be, if the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which has disregarded the judgments of the Constitutional Court and the ECtHR countless times, never hesitating to breach the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, is allowed to remain in position? If it continues to amount to all talk and no action, it would be deceitful to call this a reform.”

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