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Top Turkish court chairman slams gov't criticism of judiciary - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Constitutional Court Chairman Hasim Kilic, the chief justice, addresses media in Ankara on July 7, 2010. (REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS)

Constitutional Court Chairman Haşim Kılıç, the chief justice, addresses media in Ankara on July 7, 2010.

Ankara, Reuters—Turkey’s Constitutional Court Chairman Haşim Kılıç denounced “excessive” political criticism of his tribunal on Friday, in a defiant challenge of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has criticized recent court rulings.

“To say that the Constitutional Court acts with a political agenda or to blame it for not being patriotic is shallow criticism,” Kılıç said in a ceremony attended by a grim-looking Erdoğan, who skipped a subsequent reception.

Kılıç’s uncompromising speech, broadcast live on some local television channels, is likely to exacerbate already tense relations between the government and Turkey’s judiciary.

Erdoğan said this month he did not respect a verdict lifting a government-imposed ban on Twitter, which was seen by his opponents as an attempt to halt a string of audio leaks purportedly linking the government with corruption allegations.

A week later, the prime minister slammed another constitutional court ruling annulling some articles of a law that sought to increase government control of a key judicial body.

That law was among several measures, including legislation tightening control of the internet, the government took after a graft scandal emerged in December with police raids targeting the sons of ministers and businessmen close to Erdoğan.

The prime minister has accused influential US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, a former ally, of contriving the corruption scandal. Gülen denies the accusation.