Parliament discusses MİT amendment amid debates

Parliament discusses MİT amendment amid debates

ANKARA-Hürriyet Daily News
Parliament discusses MİT amendment amid debates

Justice Commission started debating the draft amendment to Article 26 of the MİT Act, under which prosecutors will need the PM’s permission to investigate MİT members. HDN photo

Parliamentary discussions on an amendment aimed at forestalling a probe into the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) began with a turbulent start yesterday as the ruling party held out against fierce objections by the opposition.

The draft amendment to Article 26 of the MİT Act was put to debate at the Justice Commission, where lawmakers wrangled even over the overcrowded meeting room and procedural rules, protracting the discussions.

Keen to ensure no legal loophole that could land MİT Chief Hakan Fidan in the prosecutor’s office remains, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was poised to submit an additional provision to the draft when the Hürriyet Daily News went to print.

Asked about the controversial bill, President Abdullah Gül refused to be drawn into the row. “Laws are made in Parliament. The bill will be debated at the commission and then at the General Assembly. Everybody will express their views and so it will be ultimately shaped,” he said in a laconic comment.

Under the draft, prosecutors, including those with special authority, would need the prime minister’s permission to investigate MİT members and others that he assigns to “special tasks.” The additional provision the AKP was drafting yesterday would make sure the bill covers “ongoing investigations” as well.

The draft was hastily drawn up last week after a special-authority prosecutor summoned Fidan and four other MİT officials for questioning on suspicion that MİT colluded with the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The government was alarmed by the fact the investigation was also looking into talks between the PKK and MİT, believed to have been held upon Erdoğan’s instructions.

Opposition members of the commission pressed the ruling party to withdraw the bill. Oktay Vural of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said the bill aimed to cover up the MİT-PKK talks, which he described as “bargaining over the country’s unity.” He questioned what the term “special tasks” in the draft signified and warned the adoption of the bill would pave the way for a “parallel state.”

Emine Ülker Tarhan of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) urged the government to explain what assignment Fidan had in the talks with the PKK. “If this bill is adopted, the prime minister will forever remain under suspicion,” she said.

Prosecutor under probe

Meanwhile, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) launched a preliminary investigation into Sadrettin Sarıkaya, the prosecutor who summoned the MİT officials and was then removed from the probe.

Sarıkaya will be investigated over allegations he violated the secrecy of the investigation by leaking documents related to the probe. If the enquiry concludes he was at fault, the HSYK will launch a full-fledged investigation.

In a related development, top PKK commander Murat Karayılan said they regarded their contacts with MİT as negotiations with the Turkish state. “The delegation never said they were coming on behalf of MİT. We got to know them as delegations negotiating on behalf of the Turkish Republic,” he was quoted as saying.