Among the candidates are two controversial figures, namely Sincan 1st High Criminal Court Chief Judge Osman Kaçmaz and Adana prosecutor İlhan Cihaner. The two are better known for highly controversial acts they made in the recent past.
For the past few weeks Turkey has been debating a newly-approved law, which includes opening new chambers in the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State to lighten the workload. With the law, the total number of chambers in the Supreme Court of Appeals will rise to 38 from 32 while the number of Council of State chambers will increase to 15 from 13.
A total of 4,984 candidates will vie for membership in the new chambers of the Supreme Court of Appeals. The number of candidates for membership in the new Council of State chambers is 544. Only 227 new members will be elected to the two courts.
Kaçmaz is better known for a 2009 ruling in which he said President Abdullah Gül should stand trial in a decade-old fraud case despite constitutional constraints on the trial of a president for anything other than high treason. In the case concerning President Gül, known popularly as the “lost trillion case,” the administration of the now-defunct Welfare Party (RP) was accused of embezzling TL 1 trillion (equivalent to TL 1 million today) by forging documents in 1997. Gül, who was the RP’s deputy chairman for foreign relations at the time, did not face trial because he had been re-elected as a deputy. After Gül was elected president, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the charges against Gül, citing the Constitution, under which presidents can only stand trial for treason. The Sincan 1st High Criminal Court, however, overruled the decision of the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, claiming there was a loophole in the Constitution and that it was not clear that presidents are immune from prosecution for crimes committed before taking office.
Kaçmaz’s request for the trial of the president was, however, rejected.
Cihaner, on the other hand, is known for two separate investigations he underwent last year when he was the chief prosecutor in the eastern province of Erzincan. As a result of the investigations, he was arrested, albeit for a short period of time. Cihaner stands accused of membership in a terrorist organization and abuse of power.
In one of the cases, the prosecutor is accused of working in line with a suspected military plot to undermine the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Titled the “Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism,” the plot mentions a subversive plan to plant ammunition and weapons in the houses of members of some religious communities. The munitions would later be found during a police search and the residents of those places would be accused of terrorist activities.
Cihaner is also accused of abuse of power and the falsification of documents during an investigation he conducted in the past.