Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Just When Will Closure Come?

From BIA-Net:
Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek and Deputy Chairperson of AKP’s Parliamentary Group Bekir Bozdağ presented to the members of the Constitutional Court the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) oral defense for the closure case.

The procedure started yesterday morning (July 3) and lasted until 18.00 with a lunch break in between. Commenting about the presentation at the end, Çiçek said, “We explained why this case should have not been filed at the first place through arguments based on the Constitution, the Turkish legal system and the international conventions.”

Çiçek declined to give information about the content of the defense, adding that they would wait for court’s decision.

Oral defense

Based on the newspaper reports, Çiçek stressed the following arguments in the oral defense: “There were confuted disclaimed news reports in the indictment”, “the indictment had false information” and “the indictment included baseless allegations.”

AKP’s defense made use of the Constitutional Court’s latest verdict in the closure case of the Rights and Freedoms Party (HAK-PAR). The defense also stated that the Chief Prosecutor wanted a type of deputy who is completely subservient to everything.

The oral defense also gave a detailed account AKP’s accomplishments in its six year long rule in various areas from health to women’s rights. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is on trial for being the center of the activities against secularism.

Now the Constitutional Court rapporteur Osman Can will collect all the information and the documents about the case and write his report about the substance of the case. While these procedures are taking place, both the Chief Prosecutor and the AKP will be able to present additional evidence or written additional defense.

The report will be presented to the eleven members of the Constitutional Court, President of the Court Haşim Kılıç will determine a meeting day, on which the members will start discussing the matter of substance of the case.

The eleven member court will make the final decision. In case one of the members is missing or retired, the most senior of the four alternate members will replace the missing member.

According to the Constitution a qualified majority is needed to close a political party. Therefore 7 out of 11 members of the Constitutional Court must approve the closure. According to article 69 of the Constitution, the court may decide to cut the treasury aid to the AKP either partially or completely rather than closing the party permanently. (EÜ/NZ/TB)
Very few observers still think it is possible that the Court will dismiss the closure case or merely cut treasury aid. After Can's report is issued, a decision will be expected soon after and all of this could happen as early as August. As before said, the real question is not so much of AKP's closure, but how the court will treat the 71 politicians who are faced with political bans (see June 17 post).

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