Parliamentary speaker moves for release of jailed MHP lawmaker
An amendment was drafted upon Turkey’s parliamentary speaker Cemil Çiçek's instruction that may result in the release of jailed MHP MP Engin Alan. AA PhotoTurkey’s parliamentary speaker Cemil Çiçek has taken steps for resolving the controversy surrounding a jailed opposition lawmaker, proposing a legal amendment outlining the delay of execution of a lawmaker’s criminal sentence until the end of the current Parliament’s mandate.
The amendment drafted by the Department of Laws and Resolutions of the Parliament upon Çiçek’s instruction has been sent to parliamentary groups of the parties represented at Parliament, Anadolu Agency reported May 7.
Çiçek suggested adding a temporary article in the Law on the Execution of Penalties and Security Measures. Accordingly, the notification of convictions regarding deputies that were elected in the June 2011 elections about whom an appeal process is still underway, and the notification of final convictions and executions regarding deputies that were elected in the June 2011 elections, to the Parliament be delayed until the end of the current Parliament’s mandate, until the next parliamentary elections in June 2015.
Eight lawmakers, two from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), one from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and five from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) were under arrest pending trial when they were elected to Parliament in 2011.
Today, only one of them, MHP deputy Engin Alan, who was convicted to 28 years in jail in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup case trial and whose sentence was approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals in October, is behind bars.
MHP Ankara deputy Özcan Yeniçeri said Çiçek’s attempt was delayed, but still called it a good development.
“From now on, each and every day that Alan is kept in prison is cruelty,” Yeniçeri said.
According to the CHP deputy chair and party spokesperson Haluk Koç, Çiçek’s move is a delayed attempt. Çiçek should have taken an initiative long ago, Koç told reporters.
For his part, CHP’s Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Engin Altay suggested that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is attempting to win the hearts of people in the run-up to presidential elections in August through this move.
Released CHP deputies
CHP Zonguldak deputy Mehmet Haberal was released from prison on time served and went on to take his Parliamentary oath two years after he was elected as a lawmaker, on Oct. 2 2013.
A renowned surgeon and former rector of the private Başkent University, Haberal was one of the highest profile civilian suspects of the Ergenekon case. At the final hearing of the Ergenekon trial, Haberal was first given 12-and-a-half years on charges related to a coup attempt, but was released by the court in consideration of his time served.
CHP İzmir deputy Mustafa Balbay, sentenced in August to almost 35 years in prison in the so-called “Ergenekon” conspiracy against the state, was freed in December 2013 pending appeal by an Istanbul court after the Constitutional Court ruled his pre-trial detention period of more than four years had violated his rights.
Released BDP deputies
BDP deputies Selma Irmak, Gülser Yıldırım, Faysal Sarıyıldız and İbrahim Ayhan, as well as BDP-supported independent deputy Kemal Aktaş, were released in early January following a Constitutional Court ruling in favor of the complaints filed by them on the grounds that their detention violated the rights of an elected person and was excessive in duration. The first four recently joined the BDP’s sister party, the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), while Aktaş was unable to become a member of the party due to his political ban.
The five were all detained as part of a case into the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Meanwhile, an eight-year sentence on charges of membership in the PKK against HDP co-leader Sebahat Tuncel was approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals in late December. Thus, she may lose her parliamentary seat.