Country of Origin Information Report

Vasat Grubu/Ehl-i Sünnet vel Cemaat


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Vasat Grubu/Ehl-i Sünnet vel Cemaat.

Illegal. It claimed responsibility for throwing a grenade at a book fair in Gaziantep on 14 September 1997, killing one person and injuring 24. [56] Today Vasat is inactive. With series of police operations in the June of 1999, in Malatya and in Ankara all the action plans, structure, strategies, educational activities and financial resources of the organisation had been deciphered. [65]

Yeni Yol (New Way)

Part of ÖDP (see Annex B). Trotskyist. Publication - “Yeni Yol” (New Way). [52a]

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Annex C: Prominent people: past and present

Government Affiliated
Head of state: Abdullah Gul was nominated for the presidency following the AKP’s election victory and eventually elected to the position on 28 August 2007. [81b]
Prime Minister: Recep Tayyip Erdogan served as the Prime Minister of Turkey since March 14, 2003. He is the leader of the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP, or Justice and Development Party). [81b]
Key ministers and posts.

Prime Minister:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State:

Cemil Cicek

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State:

Nazim Ekren

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State:

Mehmet Simsek

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State:

Hayati Yazici

Minister of State:

Murat Basesgioglu

Minister of State:

Nimet Cubukcu

Minister of State:

Mehmet Aydin

Minister of State:

Kursad Tuzmen

Minister of State:

Mustafa Said Yazicioglu

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs:

Mehmet Mehdi Eker

Minister of Culture and Tourism:

Ertugrul Gunay

Minister of Energy and Natural Resources:

Hilmi Güler

Minister of Environment and Forestry:

Veysel Eroglu

Minister of Finance:

Kemal Unakitan

Minister of Foreign Affairs:

Ali Babacan

Minister of Health:

Recep Akdag

Minister of Industry and Trade:

Mehmet Zafer Caglayan

Minister of Interior:

Dr Besir Atalay

Minister of Justice:

Mehmet Ali Sahin

Minister of Labour and Social Security:

Faruk Celik

Minister of National Defence:

Vecdi Gönül

Minister of National Education:

Hüseyin Çelik

Minister of Public Works and Housing:

Faruk Nafiz Ozak

Minister of Transportation:

Binali Yildirim

Atatürk, Kemal (born 1880/1881, died 1938) His original name was Mustafa Kemal, he was surnamed Atatürk (“Father of the Turks”) in 1934. Atatürk was the founder of modern Turkey. He became Turkey’s first President in 1923.
Bahçeli, Devlet: Leader of MHP (Nationalist Action Party), and Deputy Prime Minister 1999-2002.
Bakirhan, Tuncer: Chairman of DEHAP. [69]
Baykal, Deniz: Leader of CHP (Republican People’s Party).

Bozlak, Murat: Chairman of HADEP (People’s Democracy Party) until it was banned in March 2003. He is banned from being a founder, member or administrator of another party for five years from March 2003.

Çiller, Tansu: Turkey’s first woman Prime Minister 1993-96. Was Chairman of DYP (True Path Party).
Derviş Kemal: Formerly a Turkish Vice President of the World Bank. Appointed after the February 2001 crisis as the State Minister responsible for the economy; resigned August 2002.
Ecevit, Bülent: Former leader of DSP (Democratic Left Party), and Prime Minister 1999-2002. Was Prime Minister in 1974 (when Turkey invaded Cyprus, in order, in its perception, to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority), in 1977, and in 1978-79.
Öcalan, Abdullah (nickname “Apo”)

Leader of the PKK. Born in 1949 in Urfa. He initiated, with six colleagues, a specifically Kurdish national liberation movement based on Marxism-Leninism. From 1978 the Apocular, or followers of Apo, called themselves the PKK. He was captured, forcibly returned to Turkey in February 1999, put on trial, convicted of treason and sentenced to death. With the abolition in 2002 of the death penalty for offences in peacetime, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment without conditional release. [30b] [58]

Özkök, General Hilmi: Born 1940, Chief of the General Staff for a four year term from August 2002.
Sezer, Ahmet Necdet: President of Turkey since May 2000. He is the first President in Turkey’s history who is neither an active politician nor a senior military official. He was formerly Turkey’s most senior judge, the Chairman of the Constitutional Court.

Yilmaz, Mesut: Prime Minister in 1991, 1996, and 1997-1999, and Deputy Prime Minister 1999-2002. Was Chairman of ANAP (Motherland Party)

Zana, Leyla: Kurdish activist and former MP. She was one of the founders of the Democratic Society Movement (DHT) [5c] [30a] [36b] [42] [44b] [66e] [77] [93a] [93b]
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Annex D: Administration of Justice

The European Commission Turkey 2005 Progress Report released on 9 November 2005 recorded that “The principle of legality of criminal offences is set out in Article 38 of the Constitution and in Article 2 of the [new] Penal Code. The non-retroactivity of penalties is established in Article 38 of the Constitution and in Article 7 of the Penal Code. Proportionality between the criminal offence and the penalty is guaranteed by Article 3 of the Penal Code.
The principle of ne bis in idem [the right of a person not to be prosecuted twice for the same offence] is established in Article 223 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.” [71b] (p106)


1. The position of the judge (hakim, yargıç) is important, especially as there is no jury trial in Turkey. His role is substantially larger than that of a judge in UK or USA. He is actively responsible for the administration of justice. He takes the initiative in finding the law applicable to the facts submitted by the parties. The lawyers have the duty to assist the judge in establishing the facts and determining applicable legal provisions. The independence of judges is safeguarded by Articles 138 and following of the Constitution: “Judges shall be independent in the discharge of their duties. They shall pass judgements in accordance with the Constitution, law, justice and their personal convictions. No organ, office, agency or individual may give orders or instructions to courts or judges in connection with the discharge of their judicial duty, send them circulars, or make recommendations or suggestions. No questions may be raised, debates held, or statements issued in legislative bodies in connection with the discharge of judicial power concerning a case on trial.” [64]

As recorded in Turkey’s Statistical Yearbook 2006, published by the Turkish Statistical Institute, in 2005 there were 6,211 judges. [89a] (p131 Section on Justice)
Public Prosecutors

2. Offences are, in the great majority of cases, prosecuted in the name of the people by public prosecutors (savcılar), who are virtually representatives of the executive branch of the government within the judiciary. The duty of initiating public prosecution rests with the public prosecutor. As soon as he is informed of the occurrence of an offence, the public prosecutor should make the investigation necessary to decide whether public prosecution should be initiated. He investigates evidence both against the accused and in his favour, and helps to preserve proof which otherwise might be lost. If, at the end of his investigation, the public prosecutor decides not to prosecute, he will inform the accused if the accused has testified, or if a warrant of arrest has been issued against the accused. No one may be convicted under an indictment in which he is not named, nor may he be convicted of a crime not specified in the indictment. [64]

As noted in the European Commission 2005 report “The Code establishes the concept of plea bargaining. In order to reduce the number of unmeritorious prosecutions, the Code increases the discretion of prosecutors, who are now able to assess the strength of the evidence before preparing an indictment. Moreover, judges are given the power to return incomplete indictments. [71b] (p15) As regards legal guarantees including access to justice, so far as the prohibition of arbitrary arrest is concerned, Article 90 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that persons who are arrested by the police must be informed of the reason for their arrest.” [71b] (p15)

3. In the case of some lesser offences specified by law, where the injury is deemed more private than public, the injured party may himself institute criminal proceedings by filing a private complaint (şahsi dava) without participation of the public prosecutor. In these exceptional cases, the private party enjoys all the rights given to the public prosecutor by law. Furthermore, the person injured by an offence may intervene in any public prosecution, and he becomes a party to the action by virtue of his intervention (Müdahale yolu ile dava). [64]
As recorded in Turkey’s Statistical Yearbook 2006, published by the Turkish Statistical Institute, in 2005 there were 3, 091 prosecutors. [89a] (p131 Section on Justice)
4. The European Commission 2005 report recorded that “The number of judges and prosecutors has remained largely stable; there are currently 5 952 judges and 3 179 prosecutors in service and a further 1 053 judges and prosecutors in training. A law adopted in December 2004 provided for the recruitment of 4 000 additional judges and prosecutors, 100 judicial inspectors and 6 619 court administrative staff.” [71b] (p105)

The defendant

5. The law is designed to protect innocent citizens. The accused is favoured in criminal proceedings by the presumption of innocence. The burden of proof rests on the public prosecutor or the private complainant, and the defendant is not held guilty until his guilt is established by final judgement. When the court is not satisfied by the evidence of the prosecution, or a reasonable doubt exists, the court must give a judgement of acquittal. [64]

The European Commission 2005 report noted that “The right of defence is enshrined in Article 36 of the Constitution. The Code of Criminal Procedure regulates the use of legal counsel and the rights of defence in criminal investigations and during trials. The new Code substantially improves the rights of the defence. Article 150 of the new Code of Criminal Procedure provides that all accused persons may have access to a lawyer and that representation by legal counsel is mandatory, both during the investigation and the trial, for offences punishable by more than five years’ imprisonment … The new Criminal Code also introduces the principle of cross-examination, which strengthens the rights of the defence. Nevertheless, certain practices undermine equality of arms. The design of the courtroom, in which the prosecutor is seated on a raised platform next to the judges while defence counsel is seated at ground level, places the prosecution in a privileged position vis-à-vis the defence. Defence counsel experience difficulties in communicating with their clients both in the court house immediately before the trial (in part due to lack of suitable facilities) and in the court room during the course of the trial.” [71b] (p106)

The European Commission 2005 report recorded that “Under the new Code, criminal investigations must be carried out by a judicial police force under the authority of the public prosecutor.” [71b] (p15)

7. The use of unlawful interrogation methods (such as maltreatment, torture, forcing drugs, causing fatigue, cheating, deceiving, violence, unlawful promises) which are may distort free will, is prohibited. Accordingly statements and depositions obtained by unlawful means are considered inadmissible, even if they are of free will (for example, if a person were deceived). [64]

The European Commission 2005 report recorded that “All detainees are entitled to access to justice (i.e a lawyer) and for juveniles the presence of a lawyer during interrogation is obligatory. Moreover, the new Regulation on Apprehension, Detention and Statement Taking [entered into force on 1 June 2005] makes the appointment of a defence lawyer obligatory in cases where the alleged crime carries a sentence of more than 5 years’ imprisonment.” [71b] (p23)
Commencement and conduct of proceedings
Preparatory investigation

8. The public prosecutor, upon being informed of the occurrence of an alleged offence, makes a preparatory investigation (hazırlık soruşturması) in order to ascertain the identity of the offender and to decide whether it is necessary to institute a public prosecution. If he concludes that a public action is necessary, he institutes a case by an indictment before the competent court. If a public action is unnecessary he decides not to prosecute. The Minister of Justice may, by order, direct the prosecutor to initiate a public prosecution. [64]

9. The public prosecutor may, for the purpose of his enquiry, demand any information from any public employee. He is authorised to make his investigation either directly or through police officers. The police are obliged to inform the public prosecutor immediately of events, detainees, and measures taken, and to execute orders of the prosecutor concerning legal procedures. [64]

10. In cases where a private complaint is submitted to the public prosecutor, and the prosecutor finds no reason for prosecution or decides not to prosecute after a preparatory investigation, he informs the petitioner of his decision. If the petitioner is, at the same time, the aggrieved party the petitioner may, within 15 days of notice, object to the Chief Justice of the nearest court which hears aggravated felony cases. If the court is convinced that the petition is well founded and rightful, it orders a public prosecution; the prosecutor in charge of the case executes this decision. Otherwise, the court refuses the petition, and after such action a public prosecution may be opened only upon production of newly discovered evidence. [64]

11. A public prosecution shall be dismissed when the perpetrator of an offence which is punishable by a fine or a maximum of three months’ imprisonment deposits the minimum amount of the fine prescribed for the specific offence (or, in the case of imprisonment, the sum which is the amount prescribed by the Law of Execution of Penalties for one day of imprisonment) in the appropriate office before the court hearing. If this amount is paid by the offender before a public prosecution has been initiated, and within ten days of the date of the offence, the perpetrator shall not be prosecuted at all. [64]
12. The preparatory investigation is, in principle, secret, performed without the presence of the parties and in written form. [64]
Final investigation (trial)

13. The European Commission 2005 report noted that “Article 38 of the Constitution provides for the presumption of innocence to be applied in criminal trials. Article 36 and 141 of the Constitution guarantee the right to a fair and public trial. Article 182 of the Code of Criminal Procedure also provides for trials to be held publicly.” [71b] (p106) The final investigation or trial (son soruşturma) begins when the indictment is sent by the public prosecutor to the court which will try the case. The final investigation has two stages: the preparation for trial (duruşma hazırlığı) and the trial itself (duruşma). Its object is to examine all evidence before the court, and to reach a judgement with respect to the guilt of the accused. [64]

14. All phases of final investigation are conducted in the presence of the defendant. At his own request, a defendant may be excused from attending trial, and may send a defence counsel in cases where his presence is not necessary. Trial may also be instituted against an absentee defendant when the offence is punishable by a fine, confiscation, or both. If the suspect has already been heard by the court in an earlier session, or if he has been questioned by a judge on the facts of the case during preliminary enquiries before the trial, the trial may continue in the suspect’s absence. [64]

15. In principal trials are open to the public. This includes cases relating to state security. In political cases the audience usually includes some representatives of human rights organisations, and diplomatic staff from various countries. [2a]
The European Commission 2005 report noted that The Code of Criminal Procedure introduces the requirement that certain trials are to be recorded on audio and videotape. [71b] (p15)
(See also 11.01 The Judiciary which includes the findings of the European Commission 2006 Report)
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Annex E: The Court System
The Court System
“The judicial system is composed of general law courts; specialized heavy penal courts; military courts; the Constitutional Court, the nation’s highest court; and three other high courts. The High Court of Appeals hears appeals for criminal cases, the Council of State hears appeals of administrative cases or cases between government entities, and the Audit Court audits state institutions. Most cases were prosecuted in the general law courts, which include civil, administrative, and criminal courts. In 2004 parliament adopted legislation providing for the establishment of regional appeals courts to relieve the high court’s caseload and allow the judiciary to operate more efficiently. The courts were scheduled to begin operations in 2007.” (USSD 2005) [5b] (Section 1e)

“There is no jury system; a judge or a panel of judges decides all cases. Trials are public. The law requires bar associations to provide free counsel to indigents who request it from the court, and bar associations across the country did so in practice. Defendants have the right to be present at trial and to consult with an attorney in a timely manner. Defendants or their attorneys can question witnesses for the prosecution and present witnesses and evidence on their behalf. Defendants and their attorneys have access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and the right to appeal.” (USSD 2005) [5b] (Section 1e)

According to the Turkish law today, the power of the judiciary is exercised by Judicial (Criminal), and Administrative Military Courts. These Courts render their verdicts in the first instance, and the superior courts examine the verdict for the last and final ruling. The superior courts are: the Constitutional Court, The Court of Appeals, the Council of State, the Military Tribunal of Appeals, the Supreme Military Administrative Court, the Court of Jurisdictional Dispute, the Court of Accounts and the Supreme Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors. [18]

The courts in Turkey are in fact divided into courts of justice, administrative courts, military courts and Constitutional court. Except the Constitutional Court, they are further divided into lower and higher courts. [18]

A. Courts of Justice
An old law dated 1880, which theoretically is still in force but actually has lost its identity because of a various amendments and new laws, was the first law determining the courts’ competence and jurisdiction. The law relating to the organization of the courts determines the competence and jurisdiction of the different categories of courts. [18]
i. Civil Courts of the Peace (Sulh Hukuk Hakimliği)

This is the lowest civil court in Turkey with a single judge. There is at least one in every ilce. Its jurisdiction covers all kinds of claims where the amount does not exceed 2,000,000 Turkish Liras for the time being; claims of support, requests or minors for permission to marry or to shorten the waiting period of marriage, eviction cases for rentals by lease and all cases assigned to the court by the Code of Civil Procedure and other laws. There are 846 Civil Courts of the Peace in Turkey. [18]

ii. Civil Courts of First Instance (Asliye Hukuk Hakimliği)
This is the essential and basic court in Turkey. Its jurisdiction covers all civil cases other than those assigned to the civil Courts of the Peace. There is one in every il and ilce, and sometimes divided into several branches according to the need and necessity. There are 958 such Courts in Turkey. [18]
iii. Commercial Courts (Asliye Ticaret Mahkemesi)
The Commercial Courts are the specialized branches of all Civil Courts of First Instance, having jurisdiction over all kinds of commercial transactions, acts and affairs relating to any trading firm, factory, or commercially operated establishment. [18]
The Commercial Courts consist of three judges, one presiding judge, and two members. At present, 35 Commercial Courts exist in commercial centers, throughout Turkey. Where there are no Commercial courts, the Civil Courts of First Instance perform the functions of the Commercial Courts. [18]

The competence of the Commercial Courts is clearly described under Article 5 of the Commercial Code. [18]

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