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Opposition condemns election of pro-gov’t figure as member of Turkey’s top court

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The election of a figure close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a member of Turkey’s Constitutional Court, in yet another development raising concerns about the politicization of the country’s judiciary, has attracted condemnation from opposition parties, Deutsche Welle’s Turkish service reported on Thursday.

The Constitutional Court consists of 15 members, two of whom are elected in secret voting by parliament from among three candidates nominated for each vacant position by and from among the members of the Court of Accounts, the government body responsible for auditing the accounts of public agencies and political parties.

Former Deputy Interior Minister Muhterem İnce, a member of the Court of Accounts and one of the founders of the pro-government Foundation for the Expansion of Knowledge (İlim Yayma Vakfı), was elected as a new member of the top court on Wednesday.

İnce, a member of the Court of Accounts’ 6th Chamber, 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. He received 282 votes, while his rival, Nükrettin Parlak, head of the court’s 2nd Chamber, garnered only 14 in the third round of the election.

İnce replaced Hicabi Dursun, also a former member of the Court of Accounts who was appointed to the position in 2010 and is now retired due to an age limit. Members of the Constitutional Court retire at the age of sixty-five.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second-largest opposition group in parliament, didn’t participate in the voting held on Wednesday, DW said.

Before the vote, CHP group deputy chairman Engin Altay stated that the party wouldn’t participate in it, saying, “Politics and law have written and unwritten rules. It is impossible to understand how much the parliament has surrendered to the tutelage of the executive power.”

HDP group deputy chairperson Meral Danış Beştaş said earlier that they would not be a part of “this show election.”

“What did Muhterem İnce do in [his] three months [as a member of the Court of Accounts] that he was awarded membership in the [Constitutional Court]?” she said.

Özgür Özel, another group deputy chairman from the CHP, made a similar comment, referring to a tweet by İnce in which he stated that he was elected to the post “with the great favor of” his fellow members of the Court of Accounts.

“Don’t make so much fun of people, Muhterem. … What work did you do in the Court of Accounts, where you were for 3 months … that you thank its members?” Özel tweeted.

“Political hostages are always handy,” Şık said.

The AKP government 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 130,000 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.

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