‘Gov’t, Gülenists bargained over top judiciary posts,’ former justice says

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A former Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) deputy head who was recently released from custody has accused the Gülenists and the government of bargaining over the division of the Turkish judiciary bodies and that they agreed on the number of Gülenist personnel to be appointed to the two institutions. 

“After a [2010 HSYK] election, some 107 people out of 108 designated by the Güelnists were chosen to directly become Court of Appeals members. Within the Council of State, meanwhile, all candidates designated by the Gülenists were chosen,” said HSYK deputy chairman Ahmet Hamsici, who was arrested after the July 15 coup attempt for alleged links to the Gülenists, the main suspect in the takeover bid. 

Hamsici is now collaborating with investigators on a major probe and gave a new, 31-page testimony to prosecutors, highlighting the organization’s infiltration in 2010 into the judiciary and how it and the government cooperated over the issue.

Hamsici said the process begin after HSYK elections in 2010, when then-Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin and his undersecretary, Ahmet Kahraman, informed him about a new draft law to choose at least 150 Supreme Court of Appeals members and at least 50 Council of State members for the new term, requesting that they start preparations for the selection process.

“After this conversation, HSYK Secretary-General Mehmet Kaya invited us to his house,” said Hamsici. 

In the gathering which was also attended by four investigation judges even though that was against procedures, Hamsici said, “We actually came together for the names that were going to be picked by Gülenist HSYK members and other attending judges.”  

Hamsici said they were shown a list of candidate judges and prosecutors for the positions though a video projector and that the members expressed their opinions of each candidate.

“Those who they approved were all Gülenists,” said Hamsici. 

When they counted the names they had approved, Hamsici said, the number appeared to be 80 for the Supreme Court of Appeals. 

“Upon this, Kaya, along with two investigation judges and one HSYK member, went into the hallway of the house. They returned after three to four minutes,” Hamsici said.

Hamsici said Ahmet Berberoğlu, one of those who left the room, informed those gathered that they had solicited the opinion of Fethullah Gülen – the preacher who leads the Gülenist movement – noting that he wanted at least 140 of the Court of Appeals’ members to be his followers.  

“I, along with HSYK member İbrahim Okur and Briol Erdem, said, ‘Why is he [Gülen] expressing opinion about this number? He should care about schools.’ But Berberoğlu harshly reacted to my opinion. An argument began,” said Hamsici.

Hamsici said he, Okur and Erdem went to Kahraman at the end of two months following a lack of results to explain Gülen’s demands to the government.

Kahraman, in turn, said “negotiate,” according to Hamsici.

“Kahraman said, ‘We cannot ruin the cooperation from the beginning. We have four years ahead of us,” said Hamsici, who said he urged them to find a way to reconcile. 

Hamsici said after the meeting with the government, Gülenist members of the HSYK gathered once more, after which “they agreed to 108 members.”

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