Ankara: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan criticised the Constitutional Court for “many mistakes” and urged his ruling AK Party colleagues to support an unprecedented challenge to the court by an appeals court, stoking a potential legal crisis.
According to comments made late on Thursday, Erdogan weighed into a growing debate over the rule of law after the appeals Court of Cassation made a criminal complaint against Constitutional Court judges on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, the Constitutional Court has made many mistakes in a row at this point, which seriously saddens us,” Erdogan told reporters on a flight back from Uzbekistan, according to a text of the interview published by his office on Friday.
The top appeals court, known as Yargitay, said in its complaint that the Constitutional Court’s ruling last month in favour of releasing jailed parliamentary deputy Can Atalay was unconstitutional.
“The Constitutional Court cannot and should not underestimate the step taken by the Court of Cassation on this matter,” Erdogan said.
Turkey’s lawyers’ bar association and the main opposition party CHP started on Friday a protest march in the capital Ankara, denouncing what they characterized as an “attempted coup” by the appeals court.
Legal experts and analysts said such a crisis between the two most prominent courts was unprecedented.
“The Court of Cassation’s backlash (…) is an open and combative attack against the Constitutional Court,” said Bertil Oder, professor of constitutional law at Koc University.
“Such criminalization of constitutional judges intimidates not only the relevant judges but also furthers the degradation of the rule of law in Turkey,” she said.
(Published 10 November 2023, 10:40 IST)