Chief justice says not implementing top court’s rulings out of the question

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At a meeting attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s Chief Justice Zühtü Arslan said the rulings of the Constitutional Court concerning the violation of people’s rights are binding for all.

Arslan spoke at a ceremony on Wednesday marking the 56thanniversary of the founding of the Constitutional Court, which was attended by the country’s top politicians including Erdoğan.

In his speech Arslan said the 11tharticle of the Turkish Constitution concerns the supremacy of the charter, adding that it is out of the question for the court’s rulings not to be implemented.

He said the effectiveness of the individual applications at the court depends on eliminating the rights violations that have been determined by the court.

Arslan said the top court takes the European Convention on Human Rights and the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights into consideration when determining whether an individual’s rights and freedoms have been violated.

Turkey recently experienced an incident when the local courts refused to implement a ruling made by the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Jan. 11 that Mehmet Altan and another jailed journalist, Şahin Alpay, be released, saying their rights had been violated. But İstanbul’s 26th and 13th High Criminal Courts refused to comply with the order to release the journalists.

Altan, a professor of economics at İstanbul University and a columnist known for his liberal views and criticism of the government, and Alpay, a veteran journalist and columnist for the now-closed Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies, were jailed in a crackdown on media after an abortive coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

The two are charged with membership in a terrorist organization, abetting a coup against the government and attempting to destroy the constitutional order. Prosecutors also accuse the suspects of links to the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of having masterminded the putsch.

Back then, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government also criticized the Constitutional Court decision to release Alpay and Altan.

“The Constitutional Court does not know the case. The right decision will be taken by the court of first instance,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said, adding that the top court should not weaken the fight against the Gülen movement.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also lambasted the top court decision. “With the Alpay and Altan decision, the Constitutional Court has overstepped the line that was drawn by the Constitution and the law,” he tweeted.

Alpay was eventually released pending trial in March after the Constitutional Court ruled for a second time that his rights had been violated.

Altan is still behind bars.

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