AKP holds the key to jailed MPs freedom

AKP holds the key to jailed MPs freedom

The ball is in the court of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to hammer out a legal formula for the release of the eight jailed opposition lawmakers, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek said yesterday.

 The three opposition parties’ joint proposal on the matter has been submitted to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who in turn will put the issue up for debate by the AKP, Çiçek said. The outcome of the AKP’s meeting on the proposal will determine the course of action.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, however, said that the speaker was in charge of the matter, adding that “we [the AKP] do not have a determining role.”

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) urged the AKP to make its position clear. “As the key party, the AKP needs to express their stance as soon as possible and stop delaying the matter. If they don’t want to solve the matter, they need to clearly state that,” the CHP’s Emine Ülker Tarhan said.

After two meetings led by Çiçek, the opposition parties last week agreed on an amendment to Article 100 of the Criminal Procedures Law, under which lawmakers would be included in the scope of exemptions from pre-trial detention. If a person in jail pending trial is elected to office he or she would be immediately released. His or her trial would continue, but if convicted any sentence would be suspended until the deputy’s parliamentary mandate expired.

Asked whether he was “hopeful” that a compromise will be reached, Çiçek said yesterday that the situation requires Parliament to be “realistic.” He expressed his hope, however, that the jailed deputies “will all be released as soon as possible.”

Eight lawmakers, two from the CHP, one from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and five from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), were elected from jail in the June 12, 2011, elections. The courts have refused to release them, overriding precedents.