Prosecutors seek jail time for opposition MPs protesting deaths at workplace
ISTANBULProsecutors have demanded seven years in jail for two opposition deputies for participating in an “unauthorized” 2014 demonstration to protest the killing of 10 workers in an elevator accident at a construction site in Istanbul.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Mahmut Tanal and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü violated the law on demonstrations and prevented security forces from performing their duty, the indictment said.
The move came after nine HDP deputies were arrested on Nov. 4 and another was arrested on Nov. 7 for alleged terror links.
The indictment prepared by a special probes office of the Istanbul’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office named Tanal and Kürkçü as suspects in protests against the killing of workers at a Torunlar Construction site on Sept. 6, 2014.
Prosecutors said the two deputies were in the group of around 2,000, which gathered the next day in front of the site upon a call by political parties, trade unions and other NGOs, closing the road to traffic.
The protesters chanted slogans such as “Murder, not accident,” and “The unity of workers will beat capital” before a “group with marginal tendencies started destroying the surrounding area and throwing stones and bottles,” the indictment said.
A water cannon tried to disperse the protesters but Tanal climbed on top of the police vehicle to prevent it from attacking protesters, according to pictures.
Tanal, Kürkçü and a group of trade union representatives did not let the police perform their duty, the indictment said.
Other people are also being investigated after water cannon and ATMs in the area were destroyed, it added.
A summary of proceedings to lift the immunity of the two deputies was sent to the Justice Ministry, but the ministry returned the demand since a charter amendment on June 8 already permitted the prosecution of crimes before that date.
Ten workers plunged to their deaths from the 32nd floor at the luxury condominium on Sept. 6, 2014, when their service elevator failed. Authorities invited anger at the time by immediately dispatching riot police to the site to quell any protests.
Tanal said in his testimony to the prosecutors that there were no grounds for the probe.
Kürkçü responded to a call for him to testify, saying he had immunity as a lawmaker and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council (PACE) and cannot be called to testify until his post at PACE ends.
No deputies from parties other than the HDP have been arrested since the constitutional change but the Interior Ministry filed a criminal complaint against on Nov. 7 about the CHP’s Sezgin Tarnıkulu along with HDP’s arrested co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and arrested group deputy chairman İdris Baluken on allegations that they used the disappearance of local politician Hurşit Külter, who surfaced in Kirkuk following months of questions about his fate, as a tool of propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).