Bahçeli criticizes PM’s attack on Constitutional Court

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has criticized Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who recently slammed the Constitutional Court, which partially annulled a new law that makes changes to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).

Speaking at his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Bahçeli said, given the non-retroactive aspect of the Constitutional Court ruling, the judges and prosecutors who were reassigned to new locations with the law did not legally have to be returned to their posts. However, he said even though there is no legal obligation, there is a moral obligation to reinstate the status of the judges and prosecutors who have been affected by the law.

On April 11 the Constitutional Court partially annulled parts of the HSYK law that give the justice minister sweeping powers over the board. The court’s decision was published in the Official Gazette on April 12. The HSYK law represents a major step back from a government-proposed constitutional referendum in 2010 that brought a more democratic and pluralistic structure to the HSYK, by which most members would be elected by the 12,000 members of the HYSK. With the new law, judges and prosecutors are required to have 20 years of experience as a prerequisite for HSYK membership, effectively preventing young judges and prosecutors from becoming members of the board.

Bahçeli said Prime Minister Erdoğan’s recent harsh criticism of the Constitutional Court over the partial annulment of the HSYK law and its decision regarding the Twitter ban was inconsistent. “The prime minister has upped the dosage of his criticism toward the high court, especially after its rulings regarding Twitter and the HSYK law. He has on more than one occasion stated that he does not respect the decisions of the Constitutional Court and he finds them to be unpatriotic.” Bahçeli said the court’s “reasonable and logical” rulings had turned it into a target for the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) “triggermen lying in ambush.”

“We can’t help but wonder if the attacks on the Constitutional Court have anything to do with the [upcoming presidential] election? Whoever Prime Minister Erdoğan fights with, his initial tendency is to smear and engage in mudslinging,” he said.

On April 2 the Constitutional Court ordered that access to Twitter be restored, calling the two-week ban on the social media platform a violation of the right to free expression. Twitter was blocked after the prime minister expressed his dislike of the microblogging site after several users posted audio recordings related to an investigation into government corruption that became public with police raids and detentions carried out on Dec. 17, 2013.

Erdoğan harshly criticized the court after the ruling, saying he did not respect the decision. He also accused the Constitutional Court of putting the interests of Twitter, as a company, before those of the nation.