A list of high judicial members to be eliminated with a recent bill drafted by the government to reassign a majority of judges in the supreme courts to local courts was reportedly made ready by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) members in the Justice Ministry, before the bill was passed in the Parliament.
According to Cumhuriyet daily’s report on Thursday, MİT members already decided on which high judicial members to be eliminated and which ones to be reappointed. It is also reported that a list of names of the high judicial members that are to be eliminated if the Parliament passes the bill was made ready at the Justice Ministry.
138 members of the Supreme Court of Appeals and 50 members of the Council of State are reportedly to be eliminated from the high judiciary due to being sympathizers of the Gülen movement, a grassroots initiative comprising people inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
The new draft bill introducing amendments to the laws on the foundation and inner workings of the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State was submitted to Parliament for approval on Monday, raising concerns that the government will have more power over the judiciary.
If the new bill passes Parliament, the number of chambers in the Supreme Court of Appeals will drop from 46 to 24, half of which will be criminal chambers. In addition, the number of judges and prosecutors serving for the Supreme Court of Appeals, which is currently 516, will be reduced to 200.
The Council of State will be downsized to 10 chambers from 17, while the number of judges and prosecutors at the top judicial body will go down to 90 from 195. The memberships will be dropped within five days of the enactment of the law.
Metin Feyzioğlu — the head of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) –, Murat Arslan — the president of the Union of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV) – and Professor Sami Selçuk — the Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Appeals – also responded harshly to the newly drafted bill, arguing that it is an attempt to refurnish the top judiciary with pro-government judges and prosecutors.
Since a corruption investigation came to public attention on Dec. 17, 2013, many operations have been carried out targeting shopkeepers, teachers, members of the judiciary, journalists and police officers who are accused of being affiliated with the Gülen movement, a grassroots initiative comprising people inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. The graft probe implicated then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, members of his family and senior AK Party figures.