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Turkey court chief hits out at Erdogan criticism

AFP , Friday 25 Apr 2014
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media in his office in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, April 23, 2014 (Photo: AP)
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The president of Turkey's top court strongly rejected Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "excessive criticism" of the judiciary, saying that courts do not take orders.

"We are acting in compliance with the Turkish republic's constitution and universal principles of law," Hasim Kilic said at a ceremony marking the 52nd anniversary of the Constitutional Court that was also attended by Erdogan.

"In a state governed by the rule of law, courts do not work on orders or instructions, and cannot be manipulated by sentiments of friendship or enmity," he said.

Kilic's strongly-worded speech particularly targeted Erdogan, who listened with a look of disapproval and later skipped a reception.

The court has provoked the wrath of the government in recent weeks, especially after ruling that a controversial ban on Twitter was a breach of free speech.

Erdogan's government blocked Twitter and YouTube last month after they were used to spread audio recordings implicating the prime minister and his inner circle in a vast corruption scandal.

The Twitter ban was overturned on April 3 after the constitutional court's verdict, which was condemned by Erdogan who accused the judiciary of being packed with political opponents.

YouTube is still blocked.

"I don't respect this ruling," Erdogan said a day after Twitter went live again in Turkey.

Erdogan, Turkey's strongman premier for 11 years, ordered the Internet curbs in the lead-up to March 30 municipal elections, in which his party scored sweeping wins despite the graft scandal.

He also criticised another court ruling annulling some clauses of a law tightening the government's grip over the judiciary, accusing it of showing an "increasing appetite in political sphere" while turning a blind eye to the existence of what he called a "parallel structure" within the state, referring to his ally-turned rival Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric based in the United States.

Kilic said the government's "excessive" criticism" was motivated by political concerns.

"To say the constitutional court acts with political agenda or to blame it for failing to observe national values is a shallow criticism deprived of any depth," Kilic said.

"Our members of the court dismiss the allegations of making political or social gains out of their verdicts as an attack against their honour."

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