The arrest of a senior prosecutor in Turkey has fanned the flames of a row in the country between the secular judiciary and the ruling AK Party, which critics claim has an Islamist agenda.
Ihan Cihaner is accused of belonging to Ergenekon – a right-wing group investigators claim is plotting to overthrow the government.
The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors – a staunch defender of secularism in Turkey – stripped the officials who ordered the arrest of their powers.
The deputy Prime Minister was incensed.
Bulent Arinca said: “Turkey is not a state of judges, but a democratic state of law. Until now, our people have witnessed several different protagonists use different ways to intervene in democratic life. This time we are faced with a new type of intervention. The judiciary has delivered a major blow to our democracy and our constitutional system.”
There was little being said as staff came and went at the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors offices.
The institution is part of Turkey’s secular elite, who refuse to believe the AK Party’s denials that it wants to introduce Islamic rule.
Cihaner’s arrest has sparked a battle for control of the judiciary. The government has threatened a referendum on reform of the institution.