Minister of Justice addresses conflict between top courts

Minister of Justice addresses conflict between top courts
A+ A-
Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunc weighs in on escalating tensions between the Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court over Can Atalay's rights violation case.

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc has publicly addressed the intensifying disagreement between Turkey's Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court following a controversial decision involving newly elected MP Can Atalay. The dispute has raised concerns about the country's separation of powers and the rule of law.

Minister Tunc's statement comes amid a legal and political storm triggered by the Court of Cassation's refusal to accept a ruling from the Constitutional Court, which found that Atalay's rights had been violated. The ensuing conflict has escalated to the point where the Court of Cassation has filed a criminal complaint against members of the Constitutional Court, accusing them of overstepping their jurisdiction and violating the Constitution.

"There are differences of opinion about the Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court. There is a constitutional violation. There is a difference of opinion; there is no need to take the issue to different points," Minister Tunc stated. He criticized the heated rhetoric surrounding the case, mainly targeting statements against the President. He emphasized that accusations of a coup were baseless and that the Turkish nation was well-versed in recognizing such events from its history.

Minister Tunc reassured the public that the dispute between the two high courts would be resolved through parliamentary processes without exacerbating the situation.

Background of the case

The legal controversy began when Can Atalay, a lawyer convicted in the Gezi Park trial, was elected as an MP from the TIP (Workers' Party of Turkey) in the 28th Parliamentary General Election on May 14. Following his election, Atalay faced an 18-year prison sentence, but his legal team sought to suspend the trial and secure his release because of his parliamentary immunity.

The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation rejected Atalay's appeal, prompting him to file an individual application with the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court ruled that Atalay's rights to "election and political activity" and "personal liberty and security" had been violated.

However, when the case was referred to the local courts, the Istanbul 13th Criminal Court deferred to the authority of the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation. In an unprecedented move, the Chamber disregarded the Constitutional Court's finding and initiated legal action against its members.

This unfolding legal battle presents a significant test for Turkey's judiciary as it navigates the delicate balance between the different branches of the judicial system and the principle of checks and balances that underpin the nation's democracy.