Turkey to abolish controversial special courts: report

Turkey to abolish controversial special courts: report

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[JURIST] The Turkish ruling party plans to abolish the special courts [Reuters report] used in coup and terrorism trials, Reuters [media website] reported Wednesday. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website] plans to present a reform package including the proposed abolition of special courts to the country’s parliament before the recess. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [official profile, in Turkish] supports the criticism against the courts which have been heavily criticized for getting out of control while hundreds of defendants have spent years in detention without an approaching verdict. Hurriyet Daily [media website] was told by unidentified source that cases of coup-plotting and terrorism will be handled by regional court systems in the future. The special authority courts was established in 2005 by Erdogan’s government.

One of the most prominent cases before the special authority courts is the case of the Ergenekon [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] network. In January, retired Turkish general Ilker Basbug, formerly the leader of all of Turkey’s armed forces, was arrested [JURIST report] for his alleged involvement with the network. The group was accused of having planned to assassinate prominent members of Turkey’s Christian and Jewish minority groups, blame Islamic terrorists for the deaths and use this to delegitimize the ruling AKP. The Ergenekon investigation was criticized for its alleged purpose of silencing AKP’s opponents and imposing Islamic principles [JURIST report].