Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Özgür Özel on Nov. 9 announced that his party was starting a protest at the Parliament against the Court of Cassation’s refusal to comply with the Constitutional Court (AYM) ruling regarding the release of jailed Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) deputy Can Atalay.
In a tweet, Özel said “I learned that the (Parliamentary) Advisory Board meeting, which was announced by Parliament Speaker, Mr. Numan Kurtulmuş, and was expected to meet at 5 p.m., will not be held. In this case, in accordance with the decision we took at the extraordinary group meeting yesterday, we are starting the action of not leaving the General Assembly of the Turkish Grand National Assembly as of today in order to keep the judicial crisis and coup attempt on the agenda.”
Meclis Başkanı Sayın Numan Kurtulmuş tarafından yapılacağı bildirilen ve saat 17.00'de toplanması beklenen Danışma Kurulu toplantısının yapılmayacağını öğrendim.— Özgür Özel (@eczozgurozel) November 9, 2023
Bu durumda dün gerçekleştirdiğimiz olağanüstü grup toplantısında aldığımız karar gereği, yargı krizi ve darbe…
Later on the same day, Özel said they started their protest and added "We will continue to stand by whoever raises their voice against the coup attempt."
Anasayal düzene karşı kalkışma girişimini protesto etmek amacıyla Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi Grubu olarak TBMM Genel Kurulu'nu terk etmeme eylemi başlattık.— Özgür Özel (@eczozgurozel) November 9, 2023
"Darbe girişimine karşı kim ses yükseltiyorsa onların yanında olmaya devam edeceğiz." pic.twitter.com/MmBHcqfCEF
The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation, top Turkish appeals court, on Nov. 8 refused to comply with the AYM ruling regarding Atalay’s release and also filed a criminal complaint against AYM justices who voted for Atalay’s release, claiming they violated the constitution and exceeded their authorities.
The court claimed that the Constitutional Court did not have the authority to review Atalay's case according to the constitution.
Sparking a crisis, the opposition and legal experts deemed the move a “judicial and constitutional coup attempt.”
They remind the 153rd Article of the Constitution, which reads “The decisions of the Constitutional Court are final… Decisions of the Constitutional Court shall be binding on the legislative, executive, and judicial organs, on the administrative authorities, and on persons and corporate bodies.”
Istanbul Bar Association on Nov. 9 announced that they filed a criminal complaint against The 3rd Criminal Chamber members of the court for not complying with the AYM’s ruling, for damaging the trust in the judiciary, and committing the crimes of “abuse of office” and “deprivation of liberty.”
AYM Kararını Uygulamayan Yargıtay 3. Ceza Daire Başkanı ve Üyeleri Hakkında Suç Duyurusu— İstanbul Barosu (@istbarosu) November 9, 2023
İstanbul Barosu Başkanı Av. Filiz Saraç, Yargıtay 3. Ceza Dairesi Başkanı ve Üyeleri hakkında, Hatay Milletvekili ve Baromuz Üyesi Av. Şerafettin Can Atalay’ın bireysel başvurusuyla ilgili… pic.twitter.com/WVj2wnv4ZN
Former President Abdullah Gül criticized the Court of Cassation’s ruling and told online news outlet T24 that it was “not possible to explain the decision,” despite the powers and responsibilities of the higher judicial bodies being “clearly stated” in the constiution.
“Once, we criticized and rejected the anti-freedom tutelary decisions of the Constitutional Court, but we did what was necessary by complying with the constitution. It was very wrong for the Court of Cassation to target the libertarian decisions of the Constitutional Court in line with the Convention on Human Rights and the members who made these decisions,” he said.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder, from the opposiiton Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) said he would not read the decision to strip Atalay’s deputyship off “under his watch.”
"This recklessness against the will of the people, the Constitution and the law, must be deemed null and void by the entire Parliament. In this respect, the said provision should not be read in the General Assembly of the Parliament and should be returned (to the Court of Cassation),” Önder said in a written statement and deemed the ruling “a coup attempt against the constitutional order.”
In a press statement held at the Parliament, opposition Democracy and Progress (DEVA) Party deputies called on the Court of Cassation judges who ruled the decision and Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç to resign.
“All those who attempt to deconstitutionalize Turkey should be immediately removed from their powers, without exception. Implementation of the Constitutional Court's Can Atalay decision should be ensured immediately,” they said.
Can Atalay's case
Atalay was among the seven defendants who were sentenced to 18 years in prison in the Gezi Park trial. He was convicted for “assisting to the attempted abolishment of the government." Atalay was elected as a Hatay deputy from TİP in the May 14 general elections.
The AYM on Oct. 25 ruled that imprisoned TİP deputy Can Atalay’s "right to vote and be elected” and “right to personal security and liberty" were violated and ordered the lower court to release him. The Criminal Court of Istanbul did not release Atalay, but referred the case to the Court of Cassation, arguing the AYM’s ruling was not related to the criminal court’s verdict.