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Turkey’s Court of Cassation Dismisses Supreme Court’s Ruling, Files Criminal Complaint Against Judges

In an unprecedented move, Turkey’s Court of Cassation has not only defied a decision by the Turkish Supreme Court concerning the case of People’s Democratic Congress (HDP) Hatay Deputy Can Atalay but has also initiated a criminal complaint against members of the Supreme Court.

The Court of Cassation’s 3rd Criminal Chamber ruled against compliance with the Supreme Court’s decision to address an alleged rights violation in Atalay’s case. It has taken further steps to notify the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM), suggesting the termination of Atalay’s parliamentary status.

The chamber accused the Supreme Court of overstepping its authority and violating the Constitution by ignoring a finalized and enforceable verdict from the lower court. The Court of Cassation found the Supreme Court’s actions particularly contentious, pointing to previous controversial decisions, including the judicial interpretation of parliamentary immunity, which it regards as an inappropriate extension of the Supreme Court’s constitutional mandate.

The Supreme Court’s approach to Atalay’s case was characterized as a form of ‘judicial activism,’ which the Court of Cassation argues undermines the Constitution and usurps legislative powers. The statement from the chamber suggests the Supreme Court is behaving as a ‘supervisory body’ over other high courts, disrupting the balance of powers.

The Court of Cassation further criticized the Supreme Court for its perceived threats against its judges, stemming from the contentious decision in Atalay’s case. This decision was seen as an unjustified expansion of the Supreme Court’s role, contributing to a climate of threats against the judiciary from various entities, including terrorist organizations.

As a result, the Court of Cassation has declared the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Atalay non-binding and without legal merit. It also initiated the process for the revocation of Atalay’s parliamentary status, adhering to the constitutional provision that mandates the loss of parliamentary status upon definitive sentencing.

This legal standoff reflects a deepening crisis in the Turkish judiciary, spotlighting the complex and sometimes conflicting layers of legal authority within the country’s judicial system.

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