Istanbul Bar Association says it agrees with points put forward by Mehmet Altan’s lawyers in petition to the HSK against 26th and 27th High Criminal Courts
Lawyers representing journalist Mehmet Altan on January 17 filed a complaint to the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) against judges on the panels of the 26th and 27th High Criminal Courts of Istanbul — Kemal Selçuk Yalçın, Mehmet Akif Ayaz, Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ and Seval Alaçam Sağlam — who refused to implement the Constitutional Court’s January 11 judgment, which held that Altan’s rights had been violated due to detention.
The petition stated that the decisions rendered by these judges were in breach of the Turkish Constitution and that this constituted an offense against the defendant.
The Istanbul Bar Association said they agreed with the points put forward by the lawyers in the petition. In a separate letter sent to the HSK, the Bar Association requested that the council takes immediate action in line with its authority.
The Constitutional Court on January 11 had rendered its judgments concerning the individual applications by imprisoned journalists Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay, and Cumhuriyet editor Turhan Günay, who had been released pending trial following a lengthy period of pretrial detention, ruling that their imprisonment was in violation of their rights to personal liberty and security.
However, the 13th and 26th High Criminal Courts of Istanbul, where Alpay and Altan are on trial, rejected the pleas for the journalists’ release on grounds that the reasoned judgment of the Constitutional Court had not been communicated. The objections filed by the journalists’ lawyers to those decisions were also rejected by the 13th and 27th High Criminal Courts.
In their letter of complaint to the HSK, Altan’s lawyers stated that the current situation constituted a legal chaos and that law was made to fail by the very members of the judiciary.
An excerpt from the petition read: “The current situation is not only a severe violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, it also strikes a serious blow to our republic’s character as a constitutional state. It makes the reputation of the judiciary questionable not only within our country but in the eyes of international public as well. […] In the event the local court continues with the failure to implement this judgment by the Constitutional Court, a legal chaos that will have consequences concerning all [bureaucratic] institutions in our country will clearly ensue.”
The petition said Altan was deprived of his liberty by reason of the failure to implement the Constitutional Court decision, and that the said judges were therefore committing official misconduct.
The lawyers requested that the HSK opens investigations into the said judges, that they are either dismissed from their posts or their place of duty are changed with an eye to preventing further violations of the Constitution, and that they are temporarily suspended during the course of the investigation.
The full text of the petition in Turkish can be seen here.