Erdoğan pushing boundaries, threatening judiciary repeatedly

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he would prosecute Turkey’s top judicial body if he had the authority because it “committed a crime.”
Today, speaking at a rally in Manisa, he said he was filing a legal complaint also with the prosecutor, who investigated a second corruption probe, involving Erdoğan’s son, Bilal, for committing a crime. 

It said in a statement that state institutions and executive offices must act in line with the principle of equality before the law in all of their activities, adding that an independent judiciary is a guarantee for citizens against rulers. The statement noted that the judicial check on rulers for their illegal activities is an essential part of a democratic nation and a state of rule of law.

Erdoğan lambasted the HSYK, claiming that the legal body crossed borders of its authority and violated constitution. He also harshly lashed out an İstanbul prosecutor for delivering public announcement over his removal from an ongoing corruption investigation at a press conference, deeming his press statement a crime.

“He is distributing handouts of [press statement] to reporters. How can a prosecutor do that? I’m calling on the HSYK to prosecute this prosecutor,” said Erdoğan, slamming Prosecutor Muammer Akkaş.

“All my colleagues and the public should know that as a public prosecutor I was prevented from carrying out the investigation,” Akkaş said, adding that pressure had clearly been placed on the judiciary both from the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the police, allowing an opportunity for suspects to destroy the evidence.

On Wednesday, the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered the detention of 30 suspects, including a number of deputies and businessmen. The İstanbul Police Department, which saw an extensive purge of its top officers over the last week, has not complied with the order, however.

Following Akkaş’s press conference, İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor has criticized handling of the corruption investigation into the alleged bribery and tender rigging in which dozens of well-known businessmen and sons of three ministers were detained.

İstanbul chief public prosecutor criticized prosecutors for launching the investigation last week without informing his office. Erdoğan joined criticism and repeated Çolakkadı’s claims and accused prosecutor of leaking critical information to the media.

Erdoğan has called on the HSYK to launch an investigation about Prosecutor Akkaş who lamented about political pressure and interference in the judicial process.

Late on Wednesday, the HSYK said a regulation that asks police chiefs to notify civil administrative chiefs who have no judicial position about investigations ordered by prosecutors is an open violation of principles of independence of the judiciary and checks and balances as well as openly violating the Turkish Constitution and relevant laws of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK).

In an overnight change to police procedure for judicial investigations last week, the government stifled prosecutorial independence by requiring police officers to report to their superiors in all investigations. In the current probe into corruption and bribery, that would have forced the police to inform the interior minister that they were investigating his son.