HSYK rejects appeal against his dismissal filed by arrested Judge Baser

Baser, a judge at the İstanbul 32nd Court of First Instance, was dismissed by Turkey’s top judicial body on April 27, soon after his verdict that paved the way for the release of Karaca and the police officers detained in a government-backed anti-terrorism operation. After his dismissal, Baser challenged the HSYK’s decision. However, the top judicial body has decided to reject Baser’s appeal by a majority vote during its general assembly meeting, but the HSYK members failed to provide any concrete evidence against Baser in their decision. The general assembly said that it had not investigated the charges that Baser faced in detail, stating in its decision, “Baser was dismissed [by the HSYK] without questioning the accuracy of evidence put forward by the HSYK’s 2nd Chamber,” which first ruled to dismiss Baser.

Twelve members of the HSYK voted against the appeal, while four members voted in favor. The members who rejected Baser’s appeal did not give an explanation for their decision but the four who voted in favor explained in detail why they believe Baser should be returned to his job.

One of the judges in the general assembly who voted in favor of the appeal stated that the HSYK does not possess the authority to determine whether a verdict given by a judge is right or wrong, adding that it is not a body that investigates judges over their verdicts but a body that should take the necessary measures and provide the necessary opportunities to help judges give verdicts freely according to the law and their personal convictions.

The judge also said that judges cannot be made to undergo administrative or disciplinary investigations due to verdicts they have given, recalling that Baser had been dismissed by the HSYK on charges such as “being a member of a terrorist organization or attempting to overthrow the Turkish government” based a report prepared in only two days by the HSYK’s 2nd Chamber. He also said that the HSYK had decided to dismiss Baser without questioning the report and thus the dismissal was irregular and unlawful.

The report was prepared by an inspector appointed by the HSYK’s 2nd Chamber. However, many observers have said that the HSYK inspector’s request to arrest Baser and another judge — İstanbul 29th Court of First Instance Judge Metin Ozcelik, who was dismissed with Baser on the same charges — was unlawful because it is against universal legal norms, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), earlier verdicts given by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and Turkey’s constitutional principles such as the supremacy of the law and the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. The inspector’s request was also against Law No. 6087 concerning the HSYK’s establishment, organization, operation principles and the procedures of its duties and powers and Article 6 of the Constitution, which states, “No person or organ shall exercise any state authority that does not emanate from the Constitution.”

Baser and Ozcelik were arrested in May after ruling to release Karaca and 63 police officers. Karaca and the police officers were arrested in separate government-orchestrated police operations in 2014 and have been held in pre-trial detention for months, despite a lack of evidence implicating them in any crime.

The two judges were discharged by the HSYK on April 27, two days after they ruled to release Karaca and the police officers. Upon a request by the HSYK earlier in May, the Bakırkoy 2nd High Criminal Court in İstanbul ordered the detention of Baser and Ozcelik. The judges have reportedly been accused of membership in a terrorist organization. The fact that investigators from the HSYK requested the arrest of the judges without hearing their defense statements has been widely deemed unlawful.