Party delegates to meet over release of jailed deputies

Party delegates to meet over release of jailed deputies

Party delegates to meet over release of jailed deputies

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Deputy Chair Meral Danış Beştaş makes a statement to press about jailed MPs. AA photo

Senior parliamentary executives of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy (BDP) will gather to find a way out of the jailed deputy controversy – probably by agreeing to a constitutional amendment.

The parties’ group deputy chairs will discuss a possible amendment to Article 83 of the Constitution, which regulates immunity, or an amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure. Five deputies supported by the BDP are currently in jail, as is Engin Alan, an MP for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Although the MHP will not participate in the gathering, the parties will seek to secure the release of Alan, as well as Sebahat Tuncel from the BDP’s sister party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), after both deputies’ convictions were confirmed by a higher court.

HDP co-chair Tuncel may lose her parliamentary seat after the Supreme Court of Appeals approved an eight-year sentence against her for membership in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Dec. 28, 2013.

Meanwhile, Ayhan Sefer Üstün, head of Parliament’s Human Rights Inquiry Commission, said it was unnecessary for the five jailed Kurdish lawmakers to apply to Turkey’s Constitutional Court for their release.

“There was no need for the Constitutional Court ruling on the release of the BDP deputies since the Balbay decision outlines the general principles,” Anadolu Agency quoted Üstün yesterday in reference to the recent release of CHP deputy Mustafa Balbay.

If those principles had been implemented by the local court, then the BDP lawmakers could have already been released, he said, adding that the application to the Constitutional Court’s was a “waste of time.” 

“The Constitutional Court should immediately examine the case and give a ruling under the framework similar to the principles defined in the Balbay case,” Üstün said. 

The five applied to the Constitutional Court for their release on Dec. 31, 2013, after a local court refused to grant their freedom two weeks ago, even though Balbay was freed in similar circumstances a month ago.

The five lawmakers – BDP deputies İbrahim Ayhan, Selma Irmak, Faysal Sarıyıldız, Gülser Yıldırım, as well as independent deputy Kemal Aktaş – remain detained as part of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) case.