Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül has urged people not to go the courthouse unless it is an absolute must and said that judiciary officials were working on a new implementation which will postpone trials and suspend the legal processes.
“You don’t need to go to the courthouse unless it is an absolute must; no one will lose any rights about the legal processes. We are working on a general regulation which will postpone trials and suspend the legal processes. Lawyers and citizens should rest assured,” Gül wrote on Twitter on March 19.
Gül’s statement came amid reports that a judge at Istanbul Courthouse and the judiciary personnel working with her have been placed under quarantine. The quarantine move came after the judge’s husband tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Health officials also ran a test for the judge on March 20 morning, but the result has not been yet revealed.
Meanwhile, all of the non-urgent trials at Istanbul Courthouse have been suspended. The urgent ones have been conducted using the video-conferencing system named SEGBİS.
On March 20, Justice Minister Gül also addressed reporters regarding the situation of prisoners. He said that there is currently no confirmed case of coronavirus in prisons in Turkey.
“All kinds of precautions have been undertaken meticulously [at prisons]. [Prisoners] have been given disinfectants free of charge,” he said.
Gül’s remarks came amid reports that the government will expedite a legal amendment to reduce the time served by inmates to facilitate their early release over coronavirus fears.
According to initial calculations, the legislation will lead to the release of some 30,000 prisoners. But, as there are nearly 300,000 prisoners in Turkey, authorities are reportedly looking for ways to extend the scope of the proposal.
The law amendment will exclude inmates who are serving jail terms over charges related to terror, drugs, violence against women and children, sexual abuse, as well as those serving over recurring charges.