Turkish President Gül praises Constitutional Court verdict on jailed MPs

Turkish President Gül praises Constitutional Court verdict on jailed MPs

Turkish President Gül praises Constitutional Court verdict on jailed MPs

'The rule of law showed itself one more time,' President Gül said. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin Sönmez

Amid calls for the immediate release of jailed lawmaker Mustafa Balbay following a Constitutional Court ruling, President Abdullah Gül has voiced his satisfaction over the landmark ruling, saying the top court showed that the rule of law existed in Turkey.

“I deem the ruling very important. Yesterday’s [Dec. 4] ruling was about a case over which there are several subjective opinions mixed up with political, ideological perspectives. There are different points of view over the issue [of jailed lawmakers]. But I deem it more important that the Constitutional Court ruled on such a case by a unanimous vote of all its members,” Gül told reporters in the southern province of Kilis during his visit to city’s governor.

Balbay’s lawyers, meanwhile, petitioned the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court for his release, in the light of Constitutional Court ruling.

Turkey’s top court ruled on Dec. 4 that the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP’s lengthy detention period amounted to a “violation of rights” and that his rights to be elected were violated due to his imprisonment.

Balbay, a columnist for daily Cumhuriyet, was detained on March 5, 2009 and elected a CHP deputy in the June 2011 elections, but the Istanbul court refused to release him after the elections.

According to the Law on Constitutional Court’s Foundation and Proceeding Procedures, the lower court should remove the violation that the top court ruled, the petition from Balbay’s lawyers read. As the Constitutional Court had ruled that Balbay’s right to be elected was violated, the CHP lawmaker should be released in order to allow him to use his right to hold office, the petition added.

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, meanwhile, expressed his hope that all jailed lawmakers would be released in light of the Constitutional Court ruling.

“I hope the Constitutional Court ruling will meet our expectations. I hope it will yield a result for jailed lawmakers, as well as for those who have been arrested for lengthy periods,” Çiçek told reporters at Parliament, also recalling that he had previously suggested that jailed lawmakers should be released.

For his part, CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi also hailed the Constitutional Court ruling, saying that all jailed lawmakers should immediately be released, taking the top court ruling into consideration.

There are currently six jailed lawmakers apart from Balbay; five from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and one from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The BDP deputies are detained under arrest, while the MHP deputy has been convicted.

The BDP is also poised to take steps to petition for its five jailed MPs, considering that the Balbay ruling sets a precedent for all lawmakers.

“The Constitutional Court ruling both sets a precedent and is binding for courts of first instance. We will petition for the release of our lawmakers,” BDP Deputy Chair Meral Danış Beştaş told reporters.

Beştaş also said her party was considering seeking the release of mayors in line with the top court ruling, but they will first exert their efforts for jailed lawmakers.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, meanwhile, also expressed his hope that jailed lawmakers would be released, and echoed Beştaş’s remarks about the possible release of local mayors. Speaking in the southeastern province of Batman, where the mayor has been jailed for almost four years, Arınç said the top court had ruled that detention of deputies and mayors amounted to a violation of the right to be elected.