Debate mounts over attack on CHP leader
ANKARA / Hürriyet
The attacker reportedly planned the assault a month ago. DHA Photo
Despite having been charged on terror crimes, the man who attacked Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was released by a local court in Ankara April 9, on condition that he be confined in his home. However, Orhan Övet was still sent to prison due to earlier convictions and for not fulfilling the requirements of a judicial control measure.
The assault on Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kılıçdaroğlu took place at Parliament as he was heading to a weekly parliamentary group meeting on April 8, the first such meeting after Parliament returned from a recess due to the March 30 local elections. The attacker was immediately overpowered and was taken to a police station for questioning after the attack.
Övet was later revealed to have been a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and was taken to the Ankara Courthouse on April 9 after spending the night in custody at the Anti-Terrorism Division of the Ankara Police Department. He was interrogated by a prosecutor authorized to deal with terror crimes, who later sent the attacker to the court, requesting his release on condition of judicial control, meaning that Övet would be required to report to a police station once a week and would be prohibited from traveling abroad.
The court ruled in line with the prosecutor’s request, additionally charging Övet to home confinement. However, it also revealed that there was an arrest warrant for him as he had broken the conditions of a judicial control order regarding an earlier conviction. Övet was therefore set to be sent to prison in order to serve the remainder of his earlier sentence.
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek will meet with representatives of political parties today in order to discuss the state of affairs surrounding Parliament’s security in the aftermath of the attack, which raised concerns over the sufficiency of security measures at the national assembly.
Expelled from ruling AKP after attack
During the day, the AKP Deputy Head and Spokesperson Hüseyin Çelik admitted that Övet was a member of their party and said he was expelled shortly after the incident.
“It was determined that Orhan Övet, who attacked Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu, registered with our party in Elmadağ in 2012. He was immediately discharged following the incident,” Çelik said via Twitter.
“We have over 9 million members. Accepting someone who has several criminal records as a member is a serious negligence. We deliver ‘get well’ wishes to Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu once again,” he added.
Late on April 8, in response to reporters’ questions, Kılıçdaroğlu said he would decide whether to file a complaint after learning the details of the incident.
Speaking at a press conference on April 9, CHP Deputy Chair Gürsel Tekin was reminded that it was found out that Övet was a member of the AKP and asked whether Kılıçdaroğlu would file a complaint.
“We knew that he was a member of the AKP from the data we have received,” Tekin said, underlining that the party was waiting for answers from the state in order to let the investigation run its course.
Kılıçdaroğlu will make public his final decision about a complaint in the coming days, he added.
Tekin described the incident as an attack “directed at the whole Parliament” and said there were “instigators” behind the attack, adding that the AKP’s explanation about Övet’s party membership was so far “unsatisfactory.” He said the question about whether Övet has any relationship with any lawmaker or politician has so far gone unanswered.
“The most important thing is that a statement by Övet’s mother, saying that her son was ‘exploited,’ is not being questioned. It’s weird. A mother knows best about her son. Then there should be an answer to this,” Tekin said.
An outsider in a labyrinth of corridors
The assailant, Övet, had previously said he conducted the attack because he was “annoyed” by CHP leader’s speeches, adding in his testimony that he planned the assault one month ago.
“Kılıçdaroğlu came to Hasanoğlan [neighborhood in Ankara, where Övet resides]. I was annoyed by his speeches there. I was annoyed by his speeches during the election campaign. I planned the attack a month ago,” Övet reportedly said, adding that he had no links to any illegal organization.
Övet delivered several kicks and punched Kılıçdaroğlu after entering Parliament as a visitor before the CHP leader’s party group meeting.
It remains unanswered how he knew the door Kılıçdaroğlu always uses without asking anyone, despite it being the first time he had ever gone to Parliament, which is a labyrinth of corridors for the uninitiated.
Övet was released from prison three months ago after reportedly serving a sentence on charges of injuring a person.
Anti-terror teams have searched Övet’s house and questioned his wife and mother, while looking into his social media accounts, posts and friends.
Övet’s mother, Vesile Övet, apologized to Kılıçdaroğlu and his family, saying her son was “agitated.” She added that her son was unemployed and had been in a depression since his father died.