Judge, who imprisoned 517 people over alleged Gülen links, faces probe with same charges

Erdoğanist judge Murat Taşhan.

Murat Taşhan, a Çorum judge who sent 517 people from 21 different occupations to prison over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, was detained as part of a separate investigation into the movement last week.

Taşhan was taken into custody along with his 5 colleagues in Samsun province where they had come for a judicial panel discussion. While he and his two other colleagues were released on judicial control, the remaining three were put in pre-trial arrest.

Among the people Tashan have arrested as a judge so far are district governors, judges, prosecutors, police chiefs, doctors, veterinarians, engineers, prison guards, court clerks, teachers, imams, police officers, businessmen, housewives and military officers.

According to the t24 news website, the government has dismissed 4,238 of Turkey’s 14,661 judges and prosecutors since July 15, 2016. The government has been criticized for using the coup attempt as an excuse to purge judges and prosecutors and replace them with names close to the ruling the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Barış Yarkadaş recently said the AKP government had recruited for the position of judge 800 lawyers who had ties to the party.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on Aug. 17, 2016 announced a government plan to name 8,000 new judges and prosecutors by the end of 2016.

On Dec 8, 2016, the European Networks of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) suspended the observer status of Turkey’s Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and excluded it from participation in ENCJ activities for the mass suspension and dismissal of judges and prosecutors and the failure to comply with the European Standards for Councils for the Judiciary.

A  comprehensive report, whic was released by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) titled “Turkey’s descent into arbitrariness: The end of rule of law” , provides detailed information on how the rule of law has lost meaning in Turkish context, confirming the effective collapse of all domestic judicial and administrative remedies available for Turkish citizens who lodge complaints on rights violations.

It lists many recent cases showing the ways in which  President Erdoğan and his associates in the government manipulates judiciary through loyalists and partisans. An unprecedented intimidation campaign against independent judges and prosecutors including unlawful arrests and arbitrary assets seizures was pursued by political authorities.

In addition to jailing thousands of judges and prosecutors, Turkey has also imprisoned hundreds of human rights defenders and lawyers, making extremely difficult for detainees to access to a lawyer in violation of a due process and fair trial protections under the Turkish Code on Criminal Procedures.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

At least 161,751 people were detained or investigated and 50,334 people were arrested in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to statistics reported by state-run Anadolu news agency by basing on information taken from the officials from Turkey’s Justice Minsitry on June 13. (SCF with turkeypurge.com) June 21, 2017

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