GeriGündem Midnight legislation prompts controversy
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Midnight legislation prompts controversy

Midnight legislation prompts controversy
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ANKARA - Parliament, in a midnight-passing operation a legislation that restricts the powers of military courts sparked tension among the AKP and opposition parties. Prime Miniser Erdoğan responds to criticism to the legislation arguing that it aims to judge those plotting coup attempts.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday defended the recently adopted legislation that ensured military personnel are tried in civilian courts, saying the move aims to judge the coup-attempters.

"The parliamentary group deputy leader of the Republican People’s Party [or CHP] criticizes the move and says it is typical of the ruling party to cheat them. We all voted on the legislation [together with the opposition votes.] Where were you?" said Erdoğan, speaking at his party’s meeting in Kocaeli on Sunday.

"Weren’t you the one who was against the coup organizers? You said you were sincere in judging the coup organizers. Weren’t you? The AK Party [Justice and Development Party] is combating these types of illegal formations, the CHP is advocating them. This law is to combat coup organizers."

A legislation restricting the powers of military courts, a long-standing European Union demand, was passed in Parliament in a last-minute late night meeting Friday. The legislation passed at 1:30 a.m. Saturday with the participation of a small number of opposition deputies. The opposition parties remaining silent during the session through the early hours of Saturday have led to interpretations that the legislation went unnoticed by the opposition parties. Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan said he didn’t know about the legislation while CHP leader Deniz Baykal Sunday described the move as a kind of "midnight coup."

Legislation goes unnoticed

"Parliament hastily passes legislation in midnight coups. It is a pretty important change but the Parliament speaker says he wasn’t informed of the move. The parties meet to discuss the issues but the reality isn’t mentioned in these meetings," Baykal said in Artvin.

According to the recent amendment made in the Code of Criminal Procedures, or CMUK, with last-minute proposals by the AKP deputies; the civilian courts will be able to try members of the armed forces who are accused of crimes including threats to national security, constitutional violations, organizing armed groups and attempts to topple the government in peace time.

It also transfers the power to civilian courts to try civilians in peace time for offences outlined in the military penal code. People who are suspects as part of the ongoing Ergenekon probe or similar cases for constitutional violations are being judged by the civilian judiciary. The civilian judiciary was granted the right to judge military personnel for constitutional violations such as attempts for coups, forming illegal organization or terror even if no civilian is involved and even if the crime is entirely committed in the military zone.

The legal experts, meanwhile, argue that the move is likely to prevent possible overrulings to be made by the Supreme Court of Appeals with regard to the ongoing Ergenekon probe based the concept of the "military zone."

The legislation came amid renewed tensions between the military and the government after a newspaper published a document this month that allegedly outlined an army plot to undermine the ruling AKP.

A military prosecutor ruled last week that there was insufficient evidence for an investigation for judgment of the military colonel, Dursun Çiçek, who is reported to have prepared the alleged military plan to dismantle the ruling AKP, but Erdoğan vowed that civilian prosecutors will now take over the probe. The army categorically rejected the document as forgery and called on civilian prosecutors to investigate "who fabricated the document and for what reasons and whether their objective was to tarnish the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK.

’AKP cheats us’

Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ said Friday the paper was part of a "growing and organized" smear campaign against the military and it was the duty of the military judiciary to conduct the investigation even if there emerge new evidence regarding the reality of the document. The move also created controversy between the AKP and CHP, which paid a visit to the AKP last week, urging the government to lift the interim Article 15 of the Constitution, which gives immunity to the perpetrators of the Sept. 12, 1980, military coup, in order to confront the organizers. The CHP reacted to the recent regulation, saying the move aimed to pave the way for Çiçek to be judged by the civilian court. It also accuses the AKP of passing the legislation in a last minute operation in an ill-intentioned move.

"In his visit to our party last Thursday, Justice Minister Ergin said they would solely come up with a proposal that would ensure the civilian people are judged in civilian courts. Why did they do so?" said CHP parliamentary group deputy leader, Hakkı Süha Okay.

"The move aims to pave the way for the military personnel to be directly judged by the civilian courts because of the recent alleged military document, which is called by Başbuğ as ’a piece of paper,’ or possible similar such documents," said Okay. Erdoğan in his speech in Kocaeli interpreted the CHP’s outburst as an insincere approach. "CHPtried to create a conflict between the institutions over the alleged plan. But it has no use," he said.

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