No reason to continue MPs’ detention: Parliamentary Speaker
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Judicial reform leaves no room for an extension of the arrest of MPs, Çiçek says.
A recently adopted judicial reform package leaves no room for a further extension of the arrest of currently imprisoned members of Parliament, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek said yesterday.
His remarks came only a day after Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ clearly stated that judges should resort to arrest only as an exceptional measure in ongoing trials. Both Çiçek and Bozdağ underlined the importance of a legal arrangement that extends the scope of judicial control measures as part of the related reform package.
Parliament has been annoyed by some of the practices of the specially authorized courts – including the practice concerning arrested deputies – and thus made the necessary legal amendments for eliminating such disturbance, Çiçek said.
“The message from Parliament is: ‘be careful in your practices.’ A considerable part of the debate is about the way investigations are launched and about arrests,” Çiçek said at a meeting with parliamentary correspondents, during which he assessed the past legislative term.
“The courts will be able to put into practice a new opportunity like judicial control with regard to arrested deputies. I hope [the courts] have well comprehended this message from Parliament,” Çiçek said, adding that the reform gave judges “a freer hand” to avoid arrest decisions.
According to the reform package, judges will be able to implement judicial control without a maximum limit, rather than detention. Previously this was only applicable for those facing charges punishable with up to three years in jail.
“It is important for Turkey’s image and reputation. Nobody should revert to this way [of arresting]. There is no excuse left [for courts and judges] now,” Çiçek said.
Eight deputies are currently behind bars, all of whom are from opposition parties. Five come from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), two are from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and one is from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The issue has become controversial since their election to Parliament in last year’s June elections, and led to strong pressure on the government from the international community.
“This is an issue which is entirely about judicial discretion. We have provided courts with a new opportunity they can use for trial without arrest. From now on, judges and courts will consider this [opportunity],” Bozdağ said.
However, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated yesterday his opinion that the reform is only a cosmetic one. The CHP’s dissatisfaction stems from the fact that the reform outlines the transfer of specially authorized courts to regional Courts for Serious Crimes. The government also says that such a transfer will not apply to ongoing trials in the specially authorized courts, such as the Ergenekon and Balyoz coup probes and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case.
“We are closely following the opinions of ministers and occupational organizations on the issue,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters in Merzifon, while traveling to the flood-hit Black Sea province of Samsun. “We will see how this regulation affects the judiciary and whether judges will use their discretion in favor of human rights or not,” he added.