The rulings of the Constitutional Court are binding for everyone, the head of the top court said on April 25, in an open reference to a recent move by a local court that contradicted the Constitutional Court’s verdict on the release of two jailed journalists.
“Verdicts are clear. Not implementing Constitutional Court rulings is out of the question,” Zühtü Arslan said in an Ankara ceremony marking the 56th anniversary of the Court.
The Constitutional Court had ruled in January that jailed journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan should be released, on the grounds that their rights had been violated. However, a local court defied the top court’s ruling and refused to release them.
Alpay was eventually released on March 17 following a second ruling by the Constitutional Court, while Altan was handed a life sentence on Feb. 16 on charges of links to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), who is blamed for the July 2016 coup attempt. He was sentenced along with his brother Ahmet Altan, who is also a writer, and veteran journalist Nazlı Ilıcak.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu were also present at the April 25 ceremony, which saw the two politicians in a rare handshake amid rising tensions ahead of the upcoming snap election.
During his address Arslan said the Constitutional Court had worked on 103,000 cases out of 120,000 individual applications objecting to dismissals or decree law implementations in the state of emergency, declared in the aftermath of the coup attempt.
Arslan said 86 percent of the cases sent to the Court have been finalized.