Turkish high court overturns law allowing civil courts to prosecute military personnel

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Turkey [official website, in Turkish] on Thursday overturned a law that allowed the prosecution of military personnel in civilian courts and prevented military prosecution of civilians during peacetime. The court was unanimous [AA report] in its decision to overturn the law, which was seen as necessary for Turkish accession [JURIST report] to the European Union (EU) [official website]. The law would have allowed civilian courts to prosecute members of the military for attempting to overthrow the government, threats to national security, and violations of the constitution. The decision is seen as a hindrance [DPA report] to current investigations concerning an alleged plot [JURIST news archive] by the country's secular Ergenekon [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] group to overthrow the ruling Justice Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish].

The law was challenged by the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) [party website, inTurkish] on the basis that it was technically flawed and unconstitutional. In June, Turkish President Abdullah Gul [official website, in Turkish] approved [JURIST report] the law after receiving a letter from Turkish military officials urging him not to approve the law because it runs counter to Article 145 [text] of the Turkish Constitution. At that time Gul said that the law was necessary for accession, but suggested [BBC report] that parliament should amend the law to clarify the civil court's jurisdiction over service members.

 

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