Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has strongly criticized a ceremony opening the new judicial year at the presidential palace, saying judicial independence is now “in the service of the executioner.”
A ceremony marking the opening of the new judicial year, which was protested by Kılıçdaroğlu and Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) Chairman Metin Feyzioğlu because of the venue of the event, turned into a display of judicial support for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday.
During the ceremony, held at the presidential palace, prosecutors and judges gave Erdoğan a standing ovation when he entered the hall and again upon finishing his address.
“You cannot hold a judicial ceremony in Parliament, or convene a Cabinet meeting in Parliament. Can the president give speeches in judicial venues by saying that this is the nation’s place?” said Kılıçdaroğlu in response to Erdoğan’s address during the ceremony on Thursday.
“The holding of a ceremony at the palace of the nation by a judiciary who works on behalf of the nation does not cast a shadow over judicial independence; it instead strengthens it,” said Erdoğan as he praised opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli for his participation.
“You say it is a ‘place of the nation.’ But the nation does not even know how much the palace cost,” added Kılıçdaroğlu.
“In the US, judges do not stand up when the president enters the hall. Here, our judges and prosecutors applauded the president. This means that the judiciary is ‘in the service of the executioner’.”
Remarking on the content of the speeches at the ceremony, the CHP leader said: “You [Erdoğan] make political statements during a judicial ceremony. You declare some things a crime. This is a disgraceful meeting. You politicized the judiciary. How can you expect them to make just decisions? He [Erdogan] asks the judiciary to speed up the judicial process. What kind of democracy is this?”
“The Constitution says no one can give orders to the judiciary. But you organize a meeting and issue orders to the judiciary.”
Jurists for Justice Group also criticized the ceremony at the palace, saying, “The opening of the new judicial year turned out to be a ceremony to hand the judiciary over for execution.”