ANKARA (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday parliament may pass a legal amendment to resolve a judicial crisis involving an unprecedented clash between two of the country’s top courts.
The unprecedented confrontation between the tribunals stoked a debate over the rule of law this week, when the appeals Court of Cassation refused to abide by a ruling of the Constitutional Court over a jailed parliamentarian and made a criminal complaint against judges of the top court.
“It is not difficult to make legal arrangements regarding individual applications (to the Constitutional Court),” Erdogan told reporters on a flight back from Saudi Arabia, according to a text published by his office on Sunday.
“But the work is not done after completing the legal amendments on individual applications,” he added, signalling that more legal changes on the matter could be considered.
At issue is a ruling by the Constitutional Court last month that jailed parliamentarian Can Atalay should be released.
Atalay, 47, was sentenced to 18 years in prison last year after being convicted of trying to overthrow the government by organising nationwide protests in 2013, along with Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala and six others.
All defendants denied the charges regarding the protests, which they said developed spontaneously, in the biggest popular challenge to Erdogan in his more than two decades in power.
In response to the Constitutional Court ruling, the Court of Cassation said the Constitutional Court’s ruling was unconstitutional.
In a statement on Friday evening, the Court of Cassation, the country’s top appeals court, accused the Constitutional Court of dragging the legal system into chaos with its rulings on individual applications.
In protest at the position taken by the Court of Cassation, lawmakers of the main opposition CHP party have staged a sit-in at the parliament’s general assembly since Thursday.
“Our protest against the attempt to overhaul the constitutional order will continue until further notice,” CHP leader Ozgur Ozel said in a post on X on Sunday.
Erdogan said that he would not be a party to the conflict, and play the role of a referee. He has said the clash shows the need for a new constitution, reflecting his longstanding position that parliament should take up the matter next year.
(Reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever, Editing by William Maclean)
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