Turkish judiciary plagued by nepotism, low standards – opposition deputy

Legal professionals close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are being handed positions in Turkey’s highest judicial institutions on a political basis, opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Barış Yarkadaş told a press conference on Thursday.

Lawyers favoured by the AKP are being granted positions as judges or prosecutors after perfunctory interviews, Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet quoted Yarkadaş as saying.

“Council of State president Zerrin Güngör’s daughter Gonca Hatinoğlu was appointed a judge after a 45 second interview, and she was brought in to the Supreme Court of Appeals without going to her place of duty, Elazığ” said Yarkadaş.

The decision in January 2017 to remove the 70 point minimum passing grade in an exam for candidates to the judiciary was made since “most AKP lawyers can’t get 70 points in the exam,” said Yarkadaş.

Yarkadaş highlighted the case of former justice ministry deputy undersecretary Basri Bağcı, who was working for a ministry as requirements for judicial candidates were loosened.

“Bağcı, the reason that judges and prosecutors are being appointed after 40 second interviews, was presented by the AKP as a candidate for the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR),” he said. “But the ECHR rejected him as ‘insufficiently qualified’ without even calling him for an interview.”

Despite this rejection, Bağcı was “rewarded” with a promotion to membership of Turkey’s Court of Cassation, one of the country’s highest instance legal entities that acts as the supreme court of appeals.

Over a quarter of Turkey’s judges and prosecutors are behind bars, the International Association of Judges said in a statement on Thursday. Many of them are suspected of links to Fethullah Gülen, an Islamist preacher blamed by the Turkish government for plotting the failed July 2016 coup attempt.