Parliament works on deal for jailed MPs

Parliament works on deal for jailed MPs

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Parliament works on deal for jailed MPs

Eight lawmakers - five from the BDP, two from the CHP, and one from the MHP - were elected from jail in the June 12 elections. The courts have refused to release them. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The three opposition parties agreed on an amendment proposal yesterday to submit to the ruling party as part of a drive to secure the release of jailed lawmakers, but Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin warned that it was premature to consider the problem resolved.

Ergin stressed that the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) would evaluate the issue. “If a viable formulation is found and a consensus is reached, we can achieve a result. But it is too early to say that the job is finished,” he said.

The minister was speaking after Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek held a second meeting with representatives from the three opposition parties in a bid to hammer out a legal formula that would secure the release of eight of their lawmakers who are currently awaiting trial in jail on charges of involvement in coup plots and collaboration with Kurdish militants.

During the 45-minute meeting, the representative of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Emine Ülker Tarhan, outlined a proposal which representatives of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peace and Democracy (BDP) lent support, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

They agreed on an amendment to Article 100 of the Criminal Procedures Law, under which lawmakers would be included in the scope of exemptions from pre-trial detention. If a person in jail pending trial is elected as a lawmaker he or she would be immediately released. The trials would continue, but if convicted the sentences would be suspended until their parliamentary mandates expire.

PM’s approval needed
If Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agrees to the proposal, a draft will be submitted to Parliament in the shortest possible time.

After contacting the AKP, Çiçek released a statement on the issue on behalf of all four parties in Parliament. “As a result of the talks, a consensus has been reached to seek a settlement on a legal basis in a way that all four parties will accept, without exploiting the issue politically,” the statement said.

Speaking to the Daily News, CHP deputy Ali Rıza Öztürk said that the planned amendment could be added to the judicial reform package currently being debated at Parliament’s Justice Commission. BDP Deputy Group chair Hasip Kaplan said the situation was “more positive” now compared with last week.
Eight deputies - five from BDP, two from CHP, one from MHP - were elected from jail in June 12 elections. The courts have refused to release them, overriding precedents.