CHP leader may face immunity cut, probe
ISTANBUL - ANKARA
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. DAILY NEWS Photo by Selahattin Sönmez.The public prosecutor in Istanbul’s Silivri district is seeking the revocation of the main opposition leader’s parliamentary immunity so that he can face charges of “attempting to influence a fair trial” and “insulting public servants on duty.”
Public Prosecutor Ali İşgören sent an official notice to the Justice Ministry yesterday to initiate the process of filing a case against Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Before the CHP chief could stand trial, the justice minister would need to approve the request and send it to Parliament to be put to a vote.
The main opposition party criticized the prosecutor’s move in withering terms.
CHP deputy chair Birgül Ayman Güler said the move was another government-backed attempt to silence the opposition and challenged the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to lift Kılıçdaroğlu’s parliamentary immunity so that he could stand trial.
“It seems that the AKP government, which has silenced the universities and politicized the judiciary, is now targeting the main opposition, which is resisting those dictatorial practices,” she told reporters yesterday in Ankara after a meeting of the CHP leadership.
“We are throwing down the gauntlet to both the court and the AKP. They can lift the immunity of both our chairman and all our lawmakers,” she said.
“The AKP is the party which calls dictatorship ‘an advanced democracy.’ No one in Turkey is safe any longer,” she said.
Asked how Kılıçdaroğlu had received the news, Güler said the CHP leader was calm and only said, “Are they going to take me to Silivri as well?” before the party’s central administration board returned to its agenda.
The file against Kılıçdaroğlu is based on comments he made after a Nov. 9, 2011, visit to two CHP jailed deputies at Silivri Prison, where suspects in the Ergenekon coup case are being held.
Kılıçdaroğlu likened the prison to a “concentration camp” and said he could not bear to call members of the court “judges.”
“They call this democracy and justice. Can you call him a judge, a judge who does not act with his conscience?” Kılıçdaroğlu had said, adding that the judicial system in Turkey was “under the control of the political authority. “
The prosecutor’s office acted on Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks and prepared a two-fold indictment against him, charging him with “attempting to influence a fair trial” and “insulting members of the court.”
Mehmet Durakoğlu, the vice-president of the Istanbul Bar Association, said the main opposition leader’s statement could not be perceived as an attempt to affect a fair trial.
“The ones who have the power in their hands, like the ruling party, may affect a fair trial, not the opposition leader,” Durakoğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News over the phone yesterday.
“The suspects in Silivri Prison are still being tried, which means they are presumed innocent. Kılıçdaroğlu’s speech defended the suspects’ innocence. If it were the opposite of the situation, then we could claim that he was trying to influence the court,” Durakoğlu said.
“If there were a fair trial, then we could talk about an attempt to affect it,” imprisoned CHP deputy Mustafa Balbay said in a written statement he made through his lawyers yesterday.
CHP deputy Mahmut Tanal described the investigation as a “politically engaged decision.”
Tanal said he filed several criminal complaints against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over his statements in which he blamed members of the Constitutional Court for being “militants,” but his complaints were denied in a “non-suit” decision since there was “no need for an investigation.”
“This investigation into Kılıçdaroğlu reveals how the judiciary has been politicized. There is a serious double standard. If my complaints were denied, the same should have happened here. When we compare the cases, we clearly see that this investigation is a political move,” he said.
Tanal also criticized the prosecutor’s charges that Kılıçdaroğlu attempted to influence a fair trial, saying the CHP head did not mention anything on the merits of the Ergenekon case and noting that critical statements could not be construed as an attempt to influence a trial.