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Opposition agrees to move Supreme State Council to appeals court

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Three opposition parties have agreed to include an article in the draft constitution which states that the function of the Supreme State Council will be moved from the Constitutional Court to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The Supreme State Council is currently a role the Constitutional Court undertakes when it tries ministers, prime ministers and military chiefs for offenses relating to their professions.

The Republican People's Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have agreed that the function will be performed by the Supreme Court of Appeals.

However, such an article can be added to the new constitution only if the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) also agrees, as it holds the majority of seats in Parliament.

A parliamentary commission consisting of members from all four parties is currently working to draft a new constitution to replace the existing one, which is criticized for not granting broader individual rights and freedoms to citizens.

According to the opposition's proposal, the new Supreme State Council will be composed of 11 members. The head of the General Council of the Supreme Court of Appeals will head the Supreme State Council.

In addition, the CHP and the MHP have reached agreement on an article for the new constitution which states that all criminal trials of chiefs of General Staff should be tried by the Supreme State Council.

When military chiefs commit a crime not related to their profession, they are currently tried in civilian high criminal courts. However the two opposition parties disagree with this procedure and propose that the Supreme State Council try military chiefs regardless of the crime, not just for offenses relating to their profession.

Currently, former Chief of General Staff retired Gen. Ilker Basbug is under arrest pending trial as part of the investigation into Ergenekon, an alleged terrorist network accused of working to overthrow the government. He is being tried by a high criminal court because the charges leveled against Basbug are not related to his profession but are terrorism charges. A prosecutor seeks life in prison for Basbug.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/asianet/130406/opposition-agrees-move-supreme-state-council-appeals-court