The case of Can Atalay, a Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) MP, continues to deepen the conflict within the Turkish judiciary with a local court once again defying the Constitutional Court (AYM) by not releasing Atalay, despite the AYM’s second violation decision. The local court has instead sent the case to the Court of Cassation’s 3rd Criminal Chamber, which had previously filed criminal complaints against AYM members.
Can Atalay’s lawyers expected a release decision from the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court, which was not forthcoming. In turn, the legal team expressed criticism of the local court’s decision. The lawyers asserted that the individuals responsible for the ruling are not judges in the true sense of the word and urgently called for the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) to take immediate action.
The delay also prompted reactions from TİP members, who initiated a protest outside the Istanbul Courthouse.
“Can Atalay must be released immediately. We will wait in Çağlayan Square until this decision is made. We call on everyone who stands for justice to join us in this sit-in,” TİP leader Erkan Baş stated at the courthouse.
Another TİP MP, Sera Kadıgil, criticised the delay, saying, “Three judges in the 13th High Criminal Court have locked themselves in a room for 8 hours, despite two clear constitutional provisions. They continue to commit the crime of cowardly restricting freedom.”
“We are on day 227 of seeking justice. The AYM has once again confirmed Can Atalay’s unjust and illegal detention,” Atalay’s lawyer Özgür Urfa stated. “However, the detailed ruling was awaited. It was published in the Official Gazette last night. The AYM clearly stated that the violation decision cannot be evaluated by the Court of Cassation; it is the duty of the 13th High Criminal Court, and it must make a release decision. Any contrary action would be a violation of the constitution.”
“There used to be a football team named Justice. It got relegated to the second league, then to the third, then to the amateurs, and then it disappeared. That’s the state of justice in Turkey,” artist Müjdat Gezen remarked, supporting Atalay.
Main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) leader Özgür Özel also announced his support. “I support the call of TİP leader Erkan Baş, who is exposing the unconstitutional hindrance of Can Atalay’s release in front of Çağlayan Courthouse,” he said.