Lawyer Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu requests HSK to replace court panel, saying the court has lost its impartiality


The retrial of six defendants including Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak, after the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned their aggravated life imprisonment sentences, will be overseen by the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 8 October 2019.

Ahead of the retrial,Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan’s lawyer Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu hasfiled a complaint with the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK), requesting the council to take legal action against the judges of the trial court.  In her petition to the HSK, Çalıkuşu requested that the council remove Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court’s presiding judge Kemal Selçuk Yalman, judges Recep Kurt and Mehmet Akif Ayaz and prosecutor Eray Akkavak, “who have all abused their positions and have lost their impartiality.” Çalıkuşu requested a new panel to be assigned with the retrial.

Çalıkuşu said that she will be continuing to file complaints to the HSK every day until legal action is taken against the judges in question.

“The rulings of the 26th High Criminal Court prove that the court will not be able to comply with the principles of a fair trial and decide impartially,” Çalıkuşu said.

Reminding that the panel was rejected in the beginning of the prosecution for not exhibiting impartiality by disregarding defense statements and evidence, Çalıkuşu said, “A complaint was filed against the court panel and the court was notified about the complaint. The court was asked to be withdrawn, but the court continued proceedings.”

Evaluating Mehmet Altan’s individual application concerning his unjust pre-trial detention during the prosecution, the Constitutional Court declared that Altan’s rights had been violated. The 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, however resisted against acting upon the decision. Emphasizing that the judgments of the Constitutional Court are binding on all institutions and persons, Çalıkuşu said: “The 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul managed to unanimously vote for aggravated life imprisonment even though the Plenary of the Constitutional Court found no evidence and not even suspicion of guilt to justify pre-trial detention.”

The 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul had decided for Mehmet Altan to forcibly be brought to court, even though the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals had ruled that Mehmet Altan should have been acquitted of all charges. However, upon examining Çalıkuşu’s objection filed on 22 July, the panel on duty of the Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court, revoked the decision during the judicial recess. Çalıkuşu commented: “With the change of the panel, the rule of law returned and the law got implemented.”

Çalıkuşu asked for a new panel to be assigned to the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, saying that they previouslyrejectedimplementingrulings by the Constitutional Court, the European Court of Human Rightsand the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals: “The court panel, which has definitely lost its impartiality, has clearly and unapologetically proven that it will continue to exhibit bias in its decisions.The HSK are watching this disregard of the Constitution without doing what’s necessary against it. At the stage reached, your Council holds responsibility. The court not abiding by the Constitution is the equivalent of undermining the legitimate foundation of the court with impunity. Starting from today we would like to remind you about these values and the supremacy of law and we will continue to do so every day.”

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