Former AKP parliamentary candidate elected as member of Turkey’s top court

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A former candidate for parliament from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been elected as a member of Turkey’s Constitutional Court in yet another development raising concerns about the politicization of the country’s judiciary, Turkish media outlets reported.

Kenan Yaşar, the current head of the Çorum Bar Association in central Turkey, was elected to the post in a vote held in parliament on Wednesday with the support of the AKP and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party. Yaşar will replace Judge Celal Mümtaz Akıncı after he retires.

Yaşar also earlier served as head of the AKP provincial branch in Çorum.

There are 15 members of the Constitutional Court, two of whom are elected in a secret vote in parliament. One of the court’s members is elected from among lawyers nominated by bar associations. Yaşar was one of three such candidates nominated following an election among bar associations. Some court members are appointed by the president from among candidates nominated by the higher courts such as the Council of State and the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The AKP is accused of taking the judiciary under its control and giving orders to judges and prosecutors to make politically motivated rulings. Turkey experienced a massive purge of civil servants following a failed coup in 2016 under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 125,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, have been removed from their posts. The purge of judges and prosecutors led to even more politicization of the judiciary, say many, as their posts have been filled by AKP cronies.

In the meantime, Yaşar is also known to have had anti-Semitic views in the past in addition to his affiliation with the AKP.

Aykan Erdemir, the Turkey program senior director at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, brought Yaşar’s anti-Semitic views to public attention in a tweet on Wednesday.

 

Yaşar will be among the 15 Constitutional Court judges who will soon make a ruling about the fate of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which faces a closure case on charges of “attempting to destroy the indivisibility between the state and the people.” The vote of 10 judges is required to shut the party down.

The AKP and the MHP back the closure of the party, which they see as the political wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.

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