Turkey Orders Trial of Ruling Party

Posted on March 31, 2008

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Al Jazeera

Turkey’s highest court has agreed to hear a case calling for a ban on the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP).

The 11-member Constitutional Court said on Monday it had decided to hear the full case for shutting down the AKP on grounds that it is trying to scrap secular principles enshrined in the country’s constitution.

Osman Paksut, the court’s deputy chairman, said the arguments were discussed and the decision was unanimous.

Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, chief prosecutor of the High Court of Appeals, asked on March 14 for the AKP to be shut down, accusing it of being a focal point of “anti-secular activities”.

The court closed two political parties deemed to be anti-secular in 1998 and 2001.

Yalcinkaya asked the court to bar 71 people, including Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, and Abdullah Gul, the president, from politics for five years.

The judges on Monday ruled in a majority vote that Gul, who left the AKP when he was elected head of state in August, should be included in the trial. [more]

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