Former Constitutional Court President Hasim Kılıç said that the judiciary in Turkey is under political siege, in an interview that appeared in the Karar daily on Monday.
“To summarize it in one sentence, if it is the case that the judiciary, which is the fundamental pillar of the separation of powers, is using its authority as an instrument of revenge for certain political and ideological forces, it is unavoidable to conclude that the judiciary is under siege,” said Kılıç, in the interview with veteran journalist Taha Akyol.
Kılıç was president of the Constitutional Court between 2007-2015, retiring after dissenting with then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Saying that the party had become increasingly authoritarian, Kılıç made similar comments following his retirement:
“The judiciary is not an instrument of revenge — it is not anyone’s tool to achieve their aims,” The Guardian reported Kılıç as saying at a 2015 news conference.
“In political trials, political institutions can disregard all universal, human and moral principles in order to arrive at results that benefit their own constituents,” Kılıç said.
In response to a separate question, Kılıç alluded to the followers of the exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, a group that the government refers to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), and blames for the July 2016 coup attempt. Gülen’s followers, with the assistance of their then-ally Erdoğan, are widely believed to have infiltrated significant segments of the country’s judiciary, instigating trials in order to damage their political rivals.
“I served the state for 42 years. I am saying this openly and clearly: even if there wasn’t the FETÖ factor, it would have been impossible to prevent the politicization that was produced by the elections in the judiciary,” Kılıç said.
“An important section of the elections were removed. However, appointments to and elections in some very important institutions like the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Election Board (YSK) and the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) are continuing. Think about it — a great majority of the members of the YSK and the HSK are chosen by the president, who is the leader of a political party,” Kılıç said.