May 09 2018

Turkish prosecutor quits “Nazi-esque” judiciary for politics

Bülent Yücetürk, a Turkish prosecutor who has worked on some of the country’s high-profile political cases, has resigned from a judiciary he criticised as being “reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany” to enter politics in time for the upcoming elections, Turkish newspaper Sol reported on Wednesday.

“The Turkish Republic has entered a crisis of law unlike any in its history,” said Yücetürk. “We are living in a period when courts’ verdicts are not being decided by the courts themselves.”

The rule of law under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been a source of concern for local and international observers, particularly since a decision by Turkey’s highest court to release journalists held on controversial terror charges was overturned by lower courts last January.

“This means that the judicial chain of command has been broken. It means that the Constitutional Court is no longer a working branch of the judiciary, and no longer a legal remedy. This is a massive shock, an earthquake,” lawyer Veysel Ok told The Nation magazine in February.

Yücetürk says the problems in the judiciary are far deeper-rooted than this, complaining that it has “lost its conscience and surrendered its will to a single power.”

“Hitler told prosecutors in Germany to make their decisions according to what he would do in their place,” said Yücetürk. “Prosecutors in Turkey are acting somewhat similarly.”

Over 1500 lawyers have been prosecuted under a state of emergency in place since shortly after the failed July 2016 coup attempt.

Yücetürk has vowed to enter politics in order to “rebuild the state of law in Turkey,” basing it on a legal system that respects judicial independence.

The Ankara prosecutor is known for his work related to an infamous sex-tape scandal that cost Deniz Baykal his position as the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). Yücetürk ran the investigation of who leaked a secretly recorded sex-tape featuring Baykal, finding that the scandal had been orchestrated in an organised fashion.