Lawmakers belong in parliament, not prison: CHP leader

Lawmakers belong in parliament, not prison: CHP leader

Lawmakers belong in parliament, not prison: CHP leader


Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the imprisonment of lawmakers, calling on the Constitutional Court to make a decision about the CHP’s Istanbul lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu, who has been in prison for over 300 days. 

“Lawmakers cannot be imprisoned. Their name is representative of the nation. What is a representative of the people doing in prison? They should come to parliament and talk,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on April 10, addressing his party group in the Turkish Parliament.

The former journalist, Berberoğlu, was arrested on June 14, 2017 with a prison sentence of 25 years for “helping a terrorist organization,” “espionage,” and “leaking secret state documents” in providing daily Cumhuriyet with a video purporting to show the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks carrying weapons to Syria at Turkey’s border.

In February, the Supreme Court reversed a local court’s decision, stating that there was no evidence for “espionage,” and “helping a terrorist organization,” reducing his sentence to five years and 10 months in jail for “making secret government documents public.”

The CHP lawmaker has appealed to the Constitutional Court arguing against his imprisonment.

Criticizing the top court for the lack of a decision on Berberoğlu’s individual application, Kılıçdaroğlu called on the Constitutional Court to finalize the process.

“We are expecting a decision from you as soon as possible. You are aggrandizing injustice,” he said.

“You are blocking justice,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, as applying to the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] necessitates exhausting all domestic legal remedies.

“You had made a decision in a similar case, in which you said there had not been any criminal activity. If the same cannot be said in this case, then say it is criminal activity and we will seek justice elsewhere,” he said, referring to the top court’s previous decision for journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, who were also arrested over the MİT trucks case.

In February 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled that the daily Cumhuriyet journalists’ act of publishing the case was not an act of espionage and their imprisonment was a violation of rights.

Currently, there are 13 lawmakers in jail. Twelve are from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including its former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş.

After parliamentary immunities were lifted in May 2016 with joint votes from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the CHP, lawmakers began to face prosecution.

Criticizing the CHP’s role in lifting the immunities, HDP co-leader Sezai Temelli invited Kılıçdaroğlu to Demirtaş’s hearing on April 11 in Ankara.

“We remember you had allowed the law [lifting immunities] to pass,” Temelli said on April 10.

“We had said lifting immunities would be used to establish a one-man regime and to oppress the opposition. You had said ‘yes’ instead of listening,” he said.