Government, AKP cool to offer for release of jailed MPs

Government, AKP cool to offer for release of jailed MPs

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Government, AKP cool to offer for release of jailed MPs

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ speaks in fron of a poster of PM Erdoğan at a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Yozgat.

Senior Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials gave the cold shoulder yesterday to a joint opposition proposal for the release of the eight jailed lawmakers, dashing hopes that a compromise could be reached in the short term.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said the proposed amendment contained “many legal drawbacks,” while AKP deputy chairman Ömer Çelik argued that it might result in unwanted consequences in the future.

“We do not say that the current situation should continue, but more work is needed on the issue,” Çelik said on the CNN Türk channel, reiterating charges that the opposition parties created the deadlock themselves by selecting candidates from prison at last year’s general elections.

“The issue is not being shelved. If we receive a more viable proposal that would eliminate the said drawbacks, we will examine it,” he added.

In meetings led by Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, the three opposition parties agreed last month 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 as a lawmaker he or she would be immediately released. The trials would continue, but if convicted the sentences would be suspended until their parliamentary mandates expire.

AKP officials, however, have raised misgivings that that formula could pave the way to the election to Parliament of commanders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). According to a preliminary study, the AKP believes that the proposed amendment would breach five constitutional articles, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned. Those articles pertain mainly to the prosecution of terror-related crimes and the principle of equality, and also include a provision that bars Parliament from debating ongoing trials.

The prevailing view within AKP ranks is that the release of the jailed lawmakers would require a constitutional amendment. The party is likely to ultimately reject the opposition’s proposal and suggest that the issue be taken up as part of the drive for a new constitution, a move that may open the door for give-and-take bargaining on other subjects.

AKP sources say Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will say the final world on the issue next week following a meeting of the party’s central administration board.

The jailed lawmakers include five members of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), who are on trial for collaborating with Kurdish militants, as well as two deputies from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and one member of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who are accused of involvement in anti-government plots.