Turkish court refuses to ban ruling party, but warns it

July 31st, 2008 - 12:33 am ICT by IANS  

Ankara, July 30 (DPA) The Turkish Constitutional Court Wednesday dismissed a prosecutor’s request to close down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on charges that it was working to undermine the secular nature of the state. Six of the the 11 judges voted in favour of banning the party, one short of the seven needed for the charges to have been deemed proved. The court, however, decided to cut one-year’s worth of state aid to the party by 50 percent.

Announcing the decision, a visibly-stressed Court President Hasim Kilic said the ruling was a “warning” to the party.

“I would like to hope that this result will be analysed very well, will be evaluated very well and the political party in question will take the message that it should take,” Kilic said. “At the end of this, a warning decision for this party has been made.”

There were cheers from AKP politicians in parliament as the verdict was broadcast on television.

“For our democratic development this is a very important decision,” Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay told NTV.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to address the media later Wednesday night.

The decision not to ban the party also meant that no politicians will be banned from party politics.

Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya had sought to have 71 AKP figures banned for five years from participating in party politics, including President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan.

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