Gül backs MPs’ push for jailed colleagues

Gül backs MPs’ push for jailed colleagues

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Gül backs MPs’ push for jailed colleagues

‘I hope that everyone who has been elected will carry out their duties in Parliament while their trials continue,’ President Abdullah Gül tells reporters in Çanakkale. DHA photo

President Abdullah Gül called for a solution to the problem of jailed lawmakers that would secure their release while the trials continue, after parliamentary opposition parties agreed on a legal amendment on the issue.

“I’d like to see all elected deputies in Parliament. I hope that everyone who has been elected will carry out their duties in Parliament while their trials continue,” Gül said, speaking in Çanakkale, adding that Parliament Speaker Çiçek had briefed him about the latest developments on the issue.

The issue of the jailed deputies has been dominating Turkey’s agenda, with Parliament making efforts to find a solution to secure their release. Speaker Çiçek held a second meeting with opposition representatives on April 26, and the three opposition parties agreed on an amendment proposal to submit to the ruling party.

Çiçek said yesterday that the content of the talks was being leaked to the media, and warned that the parties must not create premature expectations. His remarks appeared to target main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who said that the issue could be resolved within two weeks. Çiçek stressed that there was no single actor that could resolve the issue alone, and that he was making efforts to bring all actors together. “Imagine there’s a 10-piece-jigsaw puzzle. I’m trying to bring all those pieces together,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, for his part, spoke in favor of the release of the lawmakers and said he had come under criticism within his party for that. “If the four [parliamentary] parties find a formula which satisfies the public’s conscience, there can be a legislative amendment. The four parties must reach an agreement, but I haven’t seen such an agreement yet,” he said.

Article 14 of the Constitution stipulates the circumstances in which deputies can be put on trial, and Arınç also said that the article should be amended to change the conditions under which lawmakers are allowed to stand trial. The opposition parties however agreed on an amendment to Article 100 of the Criminal Procedures Law, under which lawmakers would be included within the scope of exemptions from pre-trial detention.

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