MPs at work on formula for colleagues in prison

MPs at work on formula for colleagues in prison

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
MPs at work on formula for colleagues in prison

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek (C) leads the efforts in Parliament to find a formula for the release of lawmakers in prison. AA photo

A legal amendment put forward by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) was opened to debate yesterday, as the first proposal in a fresh drive to hammer out a formula for the release of eight jailed opposition lawmakers currently imprisoned on charges relating to the Balyoz case.

The CHP presented the formula at a meeting convened by Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek with representatives of the three parties who currently have lawmakers in jail. The parties will first attempt to solve the issue through amendments in laws, and will only consider implementing constitutional changes if that fails to work, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

Emine Ülker Tarhan, the CHP representative present at the talks, argued that the release of the lawmakers could be secured through an amendment to Article 102 in the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedures. Under the CHP’s proposal a detained person who is elected to Parliament after their candidacy is approved by the Higher Electoral Board (YSK) will be released by the courts upon the court’s receipt of a document confirming their election.

The lawmakers could be investigated and would remain on trial, but would not be detained. If lawmakers on trial received jail terms, the execution of their sentence would be delayed until they completed their parliamentary term.

Mehmet Şandır of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) stressed that any solution must not alleviate sentences for offenses which fall under the scope of Article 14 of the Constitution. Article 14 stipulates that no freedom can be used against the unity of the country.

Unconditional release

Pervin Buldan and Hasip Kaplan of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) insisted that the deputies must be released no matter what the legal arrangement would be.

Çiçek decided to hold a second meeting with the party representatives, tentatively set for April 25, to allow the CHP’s suggestion to be evaluated. He will also review the proposal with legal experts in Parliament and draw up other possible formulae.

The deputy group chairman of the Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Mustafa Elitaş, blamed the opposition parties for failing to come up with a viable proposal themselves. “They are not putting forth anything. They are waiting for suggestions from us,” he said.

Elitaş, who met with Çiçek on “a different matter” following the meeting, stressed that the opposition parties were divided on the issue and predicted that “reaching a consensus will not be easy.”

In remarks to the Daily News, a senior CHP deputy commented that Çiçek’s sudden decision to launch a fresh drive for the release of the lawmakers following a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was because the European Court of Human Rights was expected to rule soon on lengthy pre-trial detentions in Turkey. “The court’s ruling will put the government in a tight spot in the international arena,” he said.