Turkey's Court of Cassation rejects demand to end proceedings against jailed CHP MP Berberoğlu
Enis Berberoğlu (C)
The court’s ruling came after Berberoğlu’s lawyers said the MP was granted immunity from prosecution in the last election and that such a situation would stop the continuation of proceedings against him.
The lawmaker first took the case to the 16th Civil Chamber of the Court of Cassation, which said in a ruling on July 20 that “being elected as a deputy for the second time does not grant immunity [from prosecution].”
This led Berberoğlu’s lawyers to take the case to the 17th Civil Chamber, which again ruled against the release of the lawmaker in a decision on Sept. 10.
“I am deeply sorry about the imprisonment of Enis Berberoğlu, who has been held hostage for a long time now. He was elected as a lawmaker again. The constitution is very clear; he regained immunity. Enis must be released immediately,” Deniz Baykal said during a visit to Oya Berberoğlu, the wife of the jailed MP, daily Habertürk reported.
“I am content with the search for an independent and impartial judiciary and the government’s efforts,” Oya Berberoğlu quoted him as saying.
“It’s important that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan encourages the government immediately to display a clear stance and give moral support to the society,” Baykal said.
He said there is a perception in the society that Erdoğan has a role in judicial mistakes.
Erdoğan should strongly underline the independence of the judiciary, he noted, adding that this issue is more important than political disputes.
Berberoğlu was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2017 for espionage over charges he gave daily Cumhuriyet a video purporting to show Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria.
In a retrial that finished on Feb. 13 of this year, Berberoğlu, who has denied the charges, was sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail.
Baykal also called for an end to internal dispute over CHP leadership ahead of key local elections in 2019, referring to an ongoing spat between current leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and defeated presidential candidate Muharrem İnce.
“I do not want to get involved in the current debates over whether or not the party should go to congress and the issue of change within the party. They have to end this internal feud immediately. I prefer to be in a position to contribute to ending this internal debate,” he said.
Baykal had a stroke on Oct. 16, 2017 in Ankara after a blood clot in a major artery going to his brain.
His treatment continues at the hospital in Turkey after staying in Munich for almost three months.
The in-house row in the main opposition party has deepened after the CHP’s defeat in the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections, with many in the CHP calling on Kılıçdaroğlu to resign. İnce has de facto been leading the internal dissent, calling for a snap extraordinary convention demanding change in leadership. İnce has offered Kılıçdaroğlu to become “honorary president” and “parliamentary group leader” after stepping down.