Politics


Turkey: Court approves trial to look at party closure




Ankara, 31 March (AKI) - Turkey's constitutional court has decided unanimously to hear a case aimed at closing down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK).

The party is to face charges of anti-secular Islamic activities after the chief prosecutor filed a petition calling for the party to be closed.

The case is certain to revive a battle between Turkey's secularist establishment and the AK Party of devout Muslims.

Four out of the 11 judges opposed the trial of President Abdullah Gul, who is alleged to have issued pro-Islamic memorandums to diplomatic missions abroad when he was foreign minister between 2002 and 2007.

However, they were overruled by the other seven judges who said the trial should also cover Gul.

According to the Turkish media, observers said the fact that seven judges have displayed a hard-line attitude means they may also vote to shut down the party.

Osman Paksut, deputy chief justice of the Turkish Constitutional Court, announced on Monday the court has decided to examine an indictment prepared by the prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

According to the Constitution, at least 7 of the 11 members of the court have to vote for dissolution in order for the court to shut down a political party.

In line with Article 69 of the Constitution, the court may instead decide to reduce or cut the financial aid given to AK Party from the Treasury.

The AK, which describes itself as a centre-right conservative party, won 47 percent of the vote at the last elections.

The constitutional court will now examine the charges, launching a legal battle that will last for many months.

The EU has expressed its concern at the case, saying it could jeopardise Turkey's ambitions of membership.


 

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