Prominent Turkish Judge: The judiciary is in the self-destruction phase

In a detailed and critical article published on Kisa Dalga on October 23, Dr. Orhan Gazi Ertekin, a prominent judge (now retired) in Turkey, has laid bare the extensive corruption and internal decay plaguing the Turkish judiciary. With a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the system, Dr. Ertekin provides an in-depth analysis of the judiciary, portraying it as a system in collapse and on the verge of self-destruction.


Dr. Ertekin initiates his exposé by shedding light on the internal decay within the judiciary, stating that it has reached such profound depths that it is now being exposed by its own members. He draws attention to the concept of the “FETÖ stock exchange,” a term previously mentioned by Şamil Tayyar. This illicit practice involves targeting wealthy individuals, accusing them of being members of the Gülen Movement, and then extorting large sums of money from them in exchange for dropping or not pursuing terrorism prosecutions. Dr. Ertekin underscores that this corrupt practice has now extended beyond its initial scope, transforming the judiciary into a lucrative industry, with judges acting as entrepreneurs.

Judiciary has turned into a corporate where judges and prosecutors are acting as entrepreneurs

He continues by providing historical context, explaining the transformation of the judiciary following the events of December 17-25, 2013, and the July 15 coup attempt. Dr. Ertekin describes this transformation as the creation of a “corporate judiciary,” where various groups, excluding the Gülen Movement, became shareholders and engaged in unlawful practices for personal gain. He emphasizes that this corporate structuring not only legitimized these practices but also created an environment where personal vested interests could be concealed.

Being anti-Gülenist suffices to de deemed qualified

Dr. Ertekin then turns his attention to the human dimension of the judiciary, highlighting the significant turnover of judges and prosecutors, with more than one-third being purged and replaced by inexperienced individuals. He emphasizes that this has led to a judiciary that lacks professional discipline, technical legal knowledge, and ethical considerations, with a primary focus on anti-Gülenist sentiments.

He also discusses the strategic positions within the judiciary, such as chief public prosecutor’s offices and special powers courts, which have become focal points in the ongoing power struggle. Dr. Ertekin underscores the influence of the AKP and its advocates, noting the financial power and judicial influence wielded by those close to the party.

Reform is not possible

In his conclusion, Dr. Ertekin expresses scepticism about the possibility of reform, stating that the judiciary’s operation with extraordinary freedom over the last eight years has created a closed system resistant to change. He calls for the judiciary and the rule of law to become a central political issue, as the current state of decay continues to deepen.

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Translation of the the article is below:

What is going on in the judiciary?

Orhan Gazi Ertekin

The “15 July judiciary” has entered a phase of collapse with internal decay. It is obviously preparing its own self-destruction.

The decay is so deep that it is being exposed by the very foot soldiers of the 15 July judiciary. As you might recall, Şamil Tayyar spoke of a “FETÖ stock exchange” years ago. As the long overdue shocks of the “FETÖ exchange” were being revealed one by one and even included in indictments, we started to understand that the ” profits” from “FETÖ investigations” were gradually extending to other domains and turning into a “judicial exchange”.

We should also recall the revelations that allegedly involved Burhan Kuzu. Now, an information note sent by a chief public prosecutor to the HSK (High Council of Judges and Prosecutors) reveals in detail how some judges have turned into “entrepreneurs” and how the judiciary has turned into an ever-expanding “industry”.

Let’s say it from the beginning: This is not a “clean hands” process. Nor is it a “junior judges’ movement” like in Italy or Colombia. It is not a battle between the good and the bad. To be honest, all this actually existed in the heart of the 15 July judiciary. The judiciary was set up like a company in which everyone acquired shares in exchange for the purging of FETÖ. This is why previous complaints of bribery and extortion are somewhat different from those of today. It is clear that the judiciary of the Republic was a judiciary of extortion rather than bribery. It was a tradition of the judiciary of the Republic to convert the opportunities of being a member of the judiciary into benefits in a field ranging from holiday resorts to “Supreme Court hotels”. The allegations extending from Müfit Utku to Ergül Güryel to Eraslan Özkaya were directed more towards the core of the judiciary. Now, the balance between extortion and bribery seems to have completely broken down.

Let us now look at the process of the 15 July judiciary.

15 July Judiciary

The 15 July judiciary was a kind of “corporate judiciary” established with the collaborations that took place on 17-25 December 2013 and immediately afterwards. This corporate structuring in the judiciary, in which all groups other than the Gülen Movement participated as shareholders, legitimised all kinds of unlawful practices against the Gülen Movement and created an environment in which all kinds of personal vested interests could be hidden in that mass purge process. The corporation gave participating groups shares in the judiciary in proportion to their size, while at the same time allowing them wide freedom in judicial activities. 15 July, on the other hand, further expanded this corporation at the grassroots level and turned the judiciary into a field of feudal fiefs. The areas of dominance for which each group was responsible and the reconciliations and disputes within these areas shaped the developments within the judiciary.

A new novelty was introduced to all this:  The war between the Istanbul group called Pelikancılar and the traditional judicial groups was not only about control of the judiciary, but also about the sharing of the surplus value generated by the judicial industry.

Yet another point: After 15 July, the human dimension of the judiciary changed completely. More than one third of the 12,000 judges and prosecutors were purged, and the number of judges and prosecutors rose to 25,000 over time with the swift appointment of new recruits. This meant that first two-thirds of the judiciary and then ninety per cent of the judicial personnel had less than ten years of experience. If you ask a sociologist who studies the sociology of the profession, he or she will tell you that there is no such thing as a judiciary and judges. As a matter of fact, like the censorship of 1909, the censorship of 2016 also created a huge gap in the judiciary. This situation led to the appointment of thousands of new personnel in the judiciary who were not subjected to any technical legal knowledge assessment. In that judiciary, being away from the Gülen Movement was the primary red line. Proof that one was not a Gülenist was required to be demonstrated through action, and the race among judges to be anti-Gülenist went beyond the bounds of reason. Professional discipline, knowledge, technical and ethical issues were completely left out. In a judiciary in which the judiciary is involved with fear and tries to survive, developing the ability to read the mind of the government instantly has become the main tendency, while at the same time it has made it functional to hide all kinds of beneficial relationships under the veil of “I fought the Movement”.

In the 15 July judiciary, the value of the areas of authority and jurisdiction had also to a certain extent changed. The most strategic positions in the new judiciary are the chief public prosecutor’s offices and prosecutor’s offices with special powers, criminal judgeships of peace and high criminal courts with special powers. Thus, in the war of division, attention would inevitably be directed to those positions and the parties would follow each other from there.

There was another important problem, which was that every person who had a close relationship with the AKP was authorised to work and have a say in the judiciary in proportion to their affinity to it. This created an extraordinary financial power for the advocates of the AKP. Not only them, but also being an AKP executive was enough to turn judicial files into a livelihood. Let us recall the allegations against Burhan Kuzu…

Is there a way out?

So, is there a way out? No, there is not. The call for “clean hands” from within also has no meaning. Why is that? It is impossible for a judiciary that has been operating with extraordinary freedom for the last eight years to be able to recover. The 15 July judiciary has created such a closed system that all internal problems have been downplayed amidst the drumbeat of war against the Gülen Movement. Any opposition to the current judiciary has been branded as an activity carried out solely and exclusively by the Gülen Movement. Legal form and procedure have been forced out of the courthouse.

Such an environment would of course change the traditional “bribery exchange” between suspects of drug and money laundering offences and judicial factions. The war against the Gülen sect and the power of the discourse on the “heroes” of this war has led to the transformation of all criminal acts in the Turkish judiciary into a purely internal problem. Thus, issues could only become issues when they were visible to the outside world. But as long as they remained inside, they would be covered up as “internal problems”.

This is where the decay was born, and as long as all the problems in the judiciary continue to be swept under the carpet, it will obviously deepen… Until this country makes the judiciary and the rule of law a real and relevant political issue, we will continue to watch new images of decay…

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