ANKARA: Justice Ministry Requests Disbarment Of Controversial Jurist


Today’s Zaman
Nov 9 2009

The Justice Ministry requested the disbarring of two top Turkish
jurists on Monday — controversial Sincan 1st High Criminal Court
Chief Justice Osman Kacmaz and Judges and Prosecutors Association
(YARSAV) President Omer Faruk Eminagaoglu — upon the conclusion of
its investigation into a series of questionable rulings that stretch
back to 2008.

The Justice Ministry’s move comes upon the heels of a May ruling
in which Kacmaz said President Abdullah Gul should stand trial in a
decade-old fraud case despite constitutional constraints on the trial
of a president for anything other than high treason. Justice Minister
Sadullah Ergin emphasized yesterday that the investigations into
Kacmaz and request for his removal were not a new issue and should
not be seen as a reaction to the ruling over the president, saying:
"This is an investigation that began in 2008. Our [Justice Ministry]
Inspection Board and General Directorate of Penal Affairs completed
their work and sent their reports to the relevant chief prosecutor’s
office. From this point on, the process will be taken up by the
independent judiciary. We’ll all be following the developments
together." The final decision on Kacmaz’s status rests with the
Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).

Responding to reports that the Justice Ministry wanted him disbarred,
Kacmaz told the Anatolia news agency yesterday that his lawyer was
following the case. "Due to the demands of my occupation, I can’t
say too much," he said. His attorney, Baykal Dogan, also spoke
with Anatolia yesterday, saying a disciplinary report prepared by
the Justice Ministry and sent to the HSYK included one request for
Kacmaz’s disbarment, two requests for his reassignment and four
requests for judicial investigation.

The Justice Ministry also requested the removal of Eminagaoglu, the
head of YARSAV. When prosecutor Eminagaoglu, known for his staunch
opposition to the ongoing investigation into Ergenekon, a criminal
network charged with plotting to topple the government, had his case
at the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on the wiretapping of
criminal suspects rejected, he filed an appeal at Kacmaz’s court —
and won, with Kacmaz overturning the prosecutor’s office decision.

Eminagaoglu’s case rests with the Supreme Court of Appeals for now,
and if it rules for his disbarment, this decision must be approved
by the HSYK.

YARSAV, which has around 1,250 members, is known for its controversial
statements. On various occasions Eminagaoglu has voiced disapproval
of the detentions and arrests of suspected members of Ergenekon. The
Justice Ministry had announced in April that there were four
investigations ongoing into Eminagaoglu, two of which were
administrative in nature on charges of lacking impartiality and a
failure to observe professional ethics. The other two were judicial
investigations that were launched because he made a statement as a
representative of an NGO in a public institution and because he had
been making continuous comments about judicial matters, including
the ongoing Ergenekon investigation.

Kacmaz’s long history of questionable rulings Kacmaz is known for
a number of controversial decisions, previously overruling the
dismissal of a case over a campaign to apologize for the killings
of Anatolian Armenians in 1915. He also overruled a decision by
the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on the wiretapping of
criminal suspects. The Justice Ministry announced in August that
Kacmaz was under investigation as part of the probe into Ergenekon,
noting that the ministry had decided to inspect rulings issued by
Kacmaz on Sept. 29, 2008 — long before his controversial decision
involving the president.

In the case concerning President Gul, known popularly as the "lost
trillion case," the administration of the now-defunct Welfare Party
(RP) was accused of embezzling TL 1 trillion (equivalent to TL 1
million today) by forging documents in 1997. Gul, who was the RP’s
deputy chairman for foreign relations at the time, did not face trial
because he had been re-elected as a deputy. After Gul was elected
president, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the
charges against Gul, citing the Constitution, under which presidents
can only stand trial for treason. The Sincan 1st High Criminal Court,
however, overruled the decision of the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s
Office, claiming there was a loophole in the Constitution and that
it was not clear that presidents are immune from prosecution for
crimes committed before taking office. With this ruling and other,
low-profile cases, the Sincan court has been noted in the media for
its poor track record and procedural accuracy ranging from improper
filing to technical mistakes and overstepped jurisdiction.