CHP bids to get jailed MHP deputy Engin Alan released
CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi speaks during a press statement at Parliament, May 28.The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has announced that it will present a proposal to have an additional article included in the currently-debated judicial package to secure the release of a jailed lawmaker from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The CHP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have already agreed on the content of the proposal, CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi told reporters on May 29, adding that the proposal could not pass into law due to the objection of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
MHP deputy Engin Alan, who was convicted to 28 years in prison in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup case trial and whose sentence was approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals in October, is still behind bars, despite the fact that other lawmakers whose sentences had not been finalized were previously released after an intervention from the Constitutional Court. Unlike for Alan, the Court’s processes for the other deputies’ convictions have still yet to be finalized.
Hamzaçebi said the CHP’s proposal had the same content as a legal amendment drafted by Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek in early May. The amendment outlined a delay in the execution of a lawmaker’s criminal sentence until the end of the current Parliament’s mandate, in a bid to release Alan.
The CHP believes that each elected deputy shall be present at the Parliament, Hamzaçebi added. “It doesn’t matter which party this deputy is a member of. I don’t think that concerns such as ‘Others will also get use of this,’ are appropriate. What matters is human freedom,” he said.
Hamzaçebi was apparently referring to reactions from a number of MHP executives, including leader Devlet Bahçeli, to Çiçek’s proposal. They argued that such a proposal would equalize the situations of Alan and Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) co-chair Sebahat Tuncel, whose eight-year sentence on charges of membership of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals in late December.
Hamzaçebi called on Çiçek to support their initiative in order to get it approved before Parliament goes into recess at the end of June.