Turkey's constitutional court Wednesday ruled against banning the
governing Justice and Development Party, or AK party, and instead opted
to fine it after finding it guilty of undermining the secular state.
Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul the ruling is seen as a last warning
to the party.
The head of Turkey's constitutional court, Judge
Hasim Kilic, said the justices decided to cut half of the treasury
funds to which the AK party was entitled. He said six judges voted in
favor of closure and four supported fining the party.
Under Turkey's constitution, seven of the court's 11 judges are required to agree on a motion to close a politcal party .
The verdict came after three days of deliberations on whether the party had been seeking to steer Turkey toward Islamic rule.
court's ruling also ended the threat of expulsion for 71 senior members
of the ruling party, including prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and
president Abdullah Gul.
Despite being found guilty by the
court of undermining the secular state, Erdogan saw the verdict as a
victory. He said the ruling saved not only the AK party but Turkey
itself. He said his party will continue its road to a democratic and
The verdict is also seen as a relief to the
European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join. EU officials welcomed
the decision, describing it as a positive step for democracy. But that
euphoria may be tempered by the warning Kilic made while explaining his
He said he hopes the party will evaluate this
outcome very carefuly and get the message it should get. He said even
though the party was not closed, the ruling is a very serious warning.
warning carries even more weight because he was one of the judges who
opposed the closure of the party. He also said the state prosecutor was
free to file a new closure case in the future, saying the court would
The leader of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Deniz Baykal said the crisis over the AK party continues.
He said the verdict has put the government back in control of its own fate.