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    Gov’t working to allay Gül’s concerns on law

    Hürriyet Daily News
    11.07.2009 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    ANKARA - The government plans to clarify the definition of military crime and take senior military personnel including the chief of General Staff and commanders under legal protection in regard to their posts to soothe the concerns raised by the president about the controversial law restricting the powers of the military courts

    Following the president’s hesitant approval of a controversial law that restricts the powers of the military judiciary, the ruling party is set to draw a road map to soothe the president’s concerns on the law.

    Speaking to daily Milliyet and Radikal Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek said President Abdullah Gül’s proposal was important and that the government was willing to do what is required. "The issue needs a comprehensive examination and a road map should be drawn. The president points to the need for a change in both law and discipline. We will thus focus on them."

    The controversial law paving the way for civilian courts to try military personnel was passed in a late-night session in Parliament during the last week of June and has stirred up tension in the country. The military raised its concerns on the legislation, saying that "politics will enter military barracks" and conveying its objections to the presidency's legal department. President Gül approved the law Wednesday, basing its legal ground on Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. He asked the government to make additional amendments to the bill in an effort to ease the concerns of the General Staff.

    Çiçek said an amendment should be made in the military legislation, which falls under the authorization of the Defense Ministry. The Defense Ministry will take the views of the General Staff in preparation of the amendment, according to Çiçek. The government, however, earlier didn’t take the military’s views on the approved controversial legislation.

    Military’s views to be sought

    In response to the allegations that the new law contradicts Article 145 of the Constitution, which sets out the rules covering the functioning of the military judiciary, Çiçek said such a contradiction was not mentioned in the president’s decision, which meant that Gül found the law in compliance with the Constitution.

    "The Republican People’s Party [or CHP] will take the issue to the Constitutional Court to annul the law. It is the top court that will decide whether the law is in line with the Constitution, but it is the legal arrangements that will fulfill the president’s will," Çiçek was quoted by Milliyet as saying.

    According to Milliyet, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is working on a formula that will clarify the definition of military crime and take senior military personnel including the chief of General Staff and commanders under legal protection with regard to their military posts. The Defense Ministry will assume the task of preparing an additional amendment.

    The issue is expected to be brought to the party's Central Executive Board, or MYK, meeting on July 20. It currently remains unclear when Parliament will discuss the issue. Parliament went into recess July 1 and will reconvene Aug. 4 to elect a new speaker. The new legislative year will then begin after September. Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said Thursday the government would bring the law back onto Parliament’s agenda in the new legislative year, while Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan said Friday that Parliament could discuss the issue Aug. 4 if it made a special decision.

    "Parliament can’t discuss another issue unless a special decision is not made on Aug. 4. But if Parliament makes a decision to bring another issue onto its agenda, then it can discuss the issue," he told reporters Friday.

    Milliyet also reported Friday that the military would not implement the legislation on grounds that the law was against the Constitution. At the core of the military’s decision lies its concern over the excessive authorization being given to civilian courts for not only the crimes of coup and terrorism but also a number of other crimes. The General Staff thus is likely not to abide by the law until the ambiguity over the future of the law is cleared, according to Milliyet.

    Meanwhile, the presidential approval of the controversial law has given rise to another debate on the future of other ongoing cases. Legal experts warn that the law is likely to create chaos between the civilian and military courts in terms of the ongoing cases.

    Speaking to private channel CNNTürk Friday, honorary chief prosecutor of the Constitutional Court, Sabih Kanadoglu, said Gül shouldn’t approve the law as it would create problems in the ongoing cases. Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin also said the law affects the ongoing cases. The lawyers of the Şemdinli case, which is currently handled by the military court, already applied to the court for the case to be handled by the civilian court.
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