MHP head Bahçeli testifies at court over 'provoking enmity and hatred'

MHP head Bahçeli testifies at court over 'provoking enmity and hatred'

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
MHP head Bahçeli testifies at court over provoking enmity and hatred

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The leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) testified at the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on July 13 over provoking enmity and hatred within society during a speech, as a result of a controversial move to lift lawmakers’ immunities that was also supported by his leadership. 

Upon receiving a call from the prosecutor’s office to give his testimony, MHP chair Devlet Bahçeli visited the Ankara Courthouse, alongside some members of the party and his lawyers, at midday on July 13. 

“It turned out during the procedures today [July 13] that the calls were made in a very kind manner and the processes were carried out within the same framework,” Bahçeli said, warning against “overshadowing the current practice.”

A probe was launched against Bahçeli on March 23, 2013, for a speech in the northwestern province of Bursa over “provoking enmity and hatred.”

During the aforementioned speech, a group of MHP supporters chanted, “Ask us to shoot, we will shoot; ask us to die, we will die,” to which Bahçeli responded by saying “the time will come for that.”

In his written defense, which was also distributed to reporters, Bahçeli said the target of his remarks was the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and asked whether it was a crime to keep the nation “on alert” against a terror organization. 

“[Based on this probe] the constitutional duty of my client, who is the leader of an opposition party, to inform and warn the nation is a crime. This is unacceptable,” the statement said. 

Speaking after his testimony, Bahçeli said all invitees should appear before the prosecutor and “trust justice.”

“All interlocutors of summaries of proceedings should come here relaxed, trust justice, obey the calls of our prosecutors, tell what they know and display a good example of the rise of justice in Turkey,” he stated, in clear reference to the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which announced its decision not to answer prosecutors’ calls.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also commented on Bahçeli’s testimony and congratulated the leader for abiding by the laws without “making a fuss or asking people to take to the streets.”

“Do not fear law or Turkish justice. If you are right, in the end you will turn out to be right. You cannot provide a good example by challenging the law or extending invitations to take the streets,” he said in his call, during which did not prefer to provide names. 

The HDP party assembly and central decision-making body convened on June 22 to prepare a common strategy against legal actions to be taken against its lawmakers. All lawmakers will read the same defense statement if they are taken to court which draws attention to the unconstitutional nature of the removal of immunities of scores of lawmakers. 

According to the statement, lawmakers will repeat that they won’t answer any questions during the trial, underlining “you won’t be able to stop us [from] struggling to defend our views, either in parliament or in prison.”