Former deputy chief justice of Turkey’s Constitutional Court Alparslan Altan has been handed down a prison sentence of 11 years, three months on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, Turkish media reported on Wednesday.
Altan was detained just one day after a coup attempt in July 2016 and was subsequently arrested.
During Wednesday’s hearing, held at the Regional Court of Justice at the 9th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, where other judicial members who were also removed from their posts in the aftermath of the coup attempt are standing trial, Altan denied the charges, saying there is no concrete evidence against him. The former judge asked for his acquittal.
The court still handed down the lengthy jail sentence.
Turkey’s judiciary is being criticized for acting on orders from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and not basing their rulings on the law. Judges in Turkey who make decisions that anger Erdoğan are either replaced or jailed. Turkey has fallen to 109th place out of 126 countries in the World Justice Project’s (WJP) 2019 Rule of Law Index, a comprehensive measure of the rule of law.
The Turkish government arrested a total of 2,431 judges and prosecutors and dismissed 4,424 others following the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Around 150,000 civil servants have been purged under government decrees since the abortive putsch.
According to the Turkish Interior Ministry, since the failed coup more than 500,000 people have been detained in countrywide police operations and some 30,000 are currently behind bars for their alleged ties to the faith-based civic Gülen movement, accused by the government of orchestrating the coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com)