Internal documents show Turkey's highest court rejecting appeals out of hand

(Updated)

The website of Turkey’s Constitutional Court (AYM) has been shut down after an apparent fault revealed template judgements that appeared to show the court rejecting appeals before they had been lodged, journalist Kemal Göktaş reported for Diken.

The flaw in the AYM website was brought to light through social media posts by Levent Mazılıgüney, a former internal auditor at the court who was dismissed by emergency decree during a two-year state of emergency after the July 2016 coup attempt.

Mazılıgüney discovered what appeared to be internal AYM documents when he searched the website for Alparslan Altan, a former AYM judge who was dismissed and jailed after the coup attempt.

The Turkish government blames the coup attempt on members of the Gülen religious movement, who are accused of infiltrating important state institutions, including the AYM, and using their influence to form a “parallel” state within the state.

Altan was sentenced to over 11 years in prison for membership of the Gülen movement in March.

When Mazılıgüney searched for Altan’s name on the AYM website, the system brought up templates that appeared to have been prepared with justifications pre-prepared to reject any appeals on the case. Mazılıgüney recorded  video by his smart phone the entire process how he arrived the page.

The AYM is Turkey’s highest legal body, and the final domestic court at which Turkish citizens can lodge appeals before taking their cases to the European Court of Human Rights.

Mazılıgüney checked the website’s code and found that the same template judgements had been prepared for 37 different professions targeted in the post-coup purge, including academics, journalists and public servants.

“I’ve long thought that the Constitutional Court serves no other purpose than as window dressing for the ECtHR and to deceive the international public. Today my suspicions were confirmed”, Mazılıgüney tweeted.

The court's website went down after Mazılıgüney revealed the templates.

Over 180,000 public sector workers have been suspended or dismissed in the purges since the coup attempt, and tens of thousands of these have been formally arrested.

The World Justice Project’s 2017-2018 Rule of Law Index placed Turkey as the 101st out of 113 countries surveyed. It ranked in 111th place on the index measuring constraint of government powers.