Turkey incarcerates three opposition MPs stripped of parliamentary immunity
Three opposition politicians stripped of their parliamentary seats have been detained and sent to jail.
A prosecutor in Turkey’s majority-Kurdish southeastern Diyarbakır province had issued arrest warrants for two Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies on Thursday night, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Pro-Kurdish HDP’s former Hakkari deputy Leyla Güven and former Diyarbakır deputy Musa Farisoğulları were stripped of their seats in a parliamentary session earlier in the day based on finalised court orders over terrorism charges.
Farisoğulları was detained by the police on his way from Diyarbakır to the capital Ankara shortly after the warrant was issued. About an hour later, Güven was taken into custody from her home.
The third deputy stripped of his seat, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) member Enis Berberoğlu, was detained an hour after Güven. Berberoğlu had announced earlier that he would be going to the court house early Friday morning of his own volition.
"Why such tyranny for a person who would go to the prosecutor's office himself tomorrow?" tweeted CHP deputy Tuncay Özkan as he announced Berberoğlu's detention.
In 2017, Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his part in revealing to the public images that appeared to show Turkish intelligence services shipping weapons to Syrian rebels. His sentence was later reduced to five years.
Berberoğlu, who was a deputy in the previous term as well, was released some months after his re-election in 2018. Turkey’s Court of Cassation ruled to suspend his sentence until the end of his term in parliament, which under normal circumstances would have come in 2023.
Leyla Güven was convicted to six years and three months in prison for membership of a terrorist organisation over her attendance to a press conference protesting Turkey’s 2018 Operation Olive Branch into Kurdish-held northern Syrian province of Afrin, and memorial services for members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The indictment against Güven also mentioned her 200-day hunger strike protesting prison conditions for political prisoners and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who had been held in isolation without contact with his family or lawyers for eight years at the time.
Musa Farisoğulları was convicted to nine years in prison for the same charges, over his alleged attendance to funerals of two PKK members in 2018, as well as a condolence visit to another PKK member’s family. One of the funerals was for Mehmet Yakışır, who directed PKK activity in northern Turkey and was responsible for the death of a 15 year-old boy according to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.
Meanwhile, Cemile Eminoğlu, the Mayor of Bismil, a town within the southeastern Diyarbakir province also detained on Thursday, herself notified it over a tweet post. Eminoğlu was replaced by the government trustee in October, 2019.
Can Dündar’s file separated in “MİT trucks case”
A trial where the former editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet daily, Can Dündar, the newspaper’s former Ankara representative Erdem Gül, and main opposition CHP MP Enis Berberoğlu stand accused of “aiding a terrorist group without being its member” resumed on 6 February in Istanbul.
The İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court has imposed an international travel ban on Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu, who was recently released after 15 months of incarceration on espionage charges, the Habertürk daily reported.
Berberoğlu appeared in court on Wednesday along with journalist Erdem Gül in a trial concerning a news report on trucks from Turkey’s intelligence service (MİT) carrying weapons to rebel groups in Syria.
1 October 2018
Enis Berberoğlu, the opposition politician found guilty of revealing state secrets, was sworn in at parliament as a deputy for Istanbul on Monday after a court agreed to his release in September.
Berberoğlu was sworn in from the rostrum in the Turkish parliament after speeches by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Parliamentary Spokesperson Binali Yıldırım, Turkish news site Bianet reported.
In July 2016, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy was sentenced to 25 years in prison for disclosing to the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet information on secret truckloads of weaponry allegedly sent by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) to rebel factions in Syria.
Last February, the sentence was reduced to five years and 10 months, and in September the Court of Cassation agreed to release Berberoğlu, who won a seat in parliament in the elections in June, until he has served his term as deputy.
A Turkish parliamentary bylaw states that deputies who are unable to attend the swearing in ceremony after an election must be sworn in at the first possible session of parliament.
Turkey’s Court of Cassation rejects CHP deputy’s appeal for release
The 17th Chamber of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals on Monday rejected a petition from jailed Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu, who requested that a verdict be vacated and he be released on the grounds that he was re-elected in a general election on June 24.
A local court in İstanbul had sentenced Berberoğlu to five years, 10 months on charges of revealing state secrets as the source of a Cumhuriyet daily report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks carrying weapons to Syria, a verdict that was appealed by his lawyers after the election on June 24.
The lawyers applied to the Supreme Court of Appeals citing the 83rd article of the constitution, which governs the immunity of lawmakers, stating that Berberoğlu had regained his immunity and demanded that his verdict be vacated until a parliamentary decision is made to again remove his immunity and that he be retried by a lower court.
The 16th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals rejected Berbaroğlu’s request on July 20, after which he protested the ruling with self-imposed isolation.
“I have decided not to have open or closed meetings with my family, my lawyers and other deputies, not to exercise my right to a defense in court and to halt all communications with the outside world,” Berberoğlu said in a written statement shared by his lawyer.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu started a “Justice March” following Berberoğlu’s arrest in June 2017, walking from Ankara to İstanbul, where Berberoğlu was incarcerated. Although the march attracted much attention, it failed to affect the legal proceedings. Source
Wife of jailed journalist Berberoğlu slams lack of justice due to husband’s situation
Oya Berberoğlu, the wife of jailed Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu, has lashed out at the lack of justice in Turkey, saying that her husband is unlawfully being kept behind bars despite having parliamentary immunity.
Berberoğlu, a former journalist, was first sentenced to 25 years in prison on espionage charges in 2017 for giving the Cumhuriyet daily a video purporting to show Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucking weapons to radical Islamist rebel groups in Syria.
After a long appeals process, his sentence was reduced to five years, 10 months in jail in February of this year.
The CHP had appealed to the top court to release him on the grounds that he was granted immunity from prosecution after being re-elected as a lawmaker in the June 24 elections, adding that his prosecution should be suspended until he is stripped of his seat in parliament.
The Supreme Court of Appeals rejected the appeal on July 20, prompting the CHP to appeal to a higher chamber within the court, which was expected to assess his case last week.
The lack of a decision from the court before the Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins on Tuesday, apparently disappointed Berberoğlu’s wife, who is also a journalist.
In a statement on Tuesday Oya Berberoğlu said her husband is being unlawfully kept in Maltepe Prison in İstanbul although he reacquired parliamentary immunity for 15 months, adding that this situation is also against the Turkish Constitution.
She said she had expected justice to be served by noon on Monday but was disappointed due to the lack of a court decision in favor of her husband.
“We trusted the judiciary of this country, but my confidence in justice has eroded. Unfortunately, there is a [judicial] structure that changes according to the political winds. There can be no such justice or judicial system. There is neither the rule of law nor the separation of powers in this country. All of them have been destroyed,” said Berberoğlu.
Turkey’s judiciary is being criticized for acting on orders from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and not basing their rulings on the law. Judges in Turkey who make decisions that anger Erdoğan are either replaced or jailed.
Jailed MP Berberoğlu cuts all communication with all visitors in protest
Jailed lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu said he would cut all communication with his family, lawyers, and fellow lawmakers in a declaration he made via his lawyers on July 22, protesting the Court of Cassation’s July 20 rejection of a demand to stop legal proceedings against him.
“Here is my independent decision,” his statement began.
“I have thoroughly pondered what my reaction would be against the Court of Cassation’s trampling of my constitutional right. I have come to the decision to stop using my free visitation rights with my family, my lawyers, and the lawmakers,” Berberoğlu said.
“I have decided not to use my right to defense before the court and cut all external communication [outside of the prison]. This tough decision will surely not please my family, my lawyers, my party and my loves ones. Thus, [the decision] is independent from them and even in spite of them,” said the lawmaker.
“Enis Berberoğlu, The Lawmaker Whose Constitution Was Stolen From Him,” he signed the statement.
Berberoğlu was re-elected in the June 24 snap elections as an MP from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
The demand on July 20 was filed by his lawyers who said the lawmaker was once again granted immunity from prosecution with the last election, and such a situation would stop the continuation of proceedings against him. The lawyers argued that the proceedings against the deputy should be suspended until he is once again stripped of his parliamentary immunity.
The lawyers have also demanded Berberoğlu’s release, which the court said they would handle later on.
In February, an Istanbul court sentenced Berberğlu to five years and 10 months in jail after convicting him of disclosing government secrets.
Berberoğlu was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2017 for espionage over charges he gave daily Cumhuriyet a video purporting to show Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria.
In a retrial that finished on Feb. 13 of this year, Berberoğlu, who has denied the charges, was sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail. Source
Court of appeals declines to halt CHP’s Berberoğlu trial due to re-election
The 16th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals on Friday rejected an application made by lawyers representing jailed Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu to halt an ongoing trial due to his re-election on June 24, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.
A local court in İstanbul had sentenced Berberoğlu to five years, 10 months on the accusations of revealing state secrets as being the source of a Cumhuriyet daily report over Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) trucks carrying weapons to Syria, a verdict that was appealed by his lawyers before the election on June 24.
The lawyers applied to the Supreme Court of Appeals on the basis of the 83rd article of the constitution, which governs the immunity of lawmakers, stating that Berberoğlu had regained his immunity and demanded that his trial be halted until a parliamentary decision was made to again remove his immunity.
The 16th Chamber will also hear the appeal of the local court’s verdict and rule whether or not to uphold it.
In May 2016 the Turkish Parliament voted to eliminate the immunity from prosecution of 138 deputies from among the 667 criminal cases from local courts filed with the legislature for review.
The CHP controversially supported the bill to avoid being seen as an ally of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) since most of the criminal cases involved HDP deputies.
During the discussion in parliament, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Mustafa Şentop said in case of re-election, deputies would regain their immunity.