Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has called on leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who kicked off a “March of Justice” from Ankara to İstanbul on Thursday, not to seek justice in the street and to take a high-speed train to İstanbul rather than walking.
Kılıçdaroğlu launched the march in Ankara on Thursday in protest of the arrest of a party deputy, Enis Berberoğlu by an İstanbul court on Wednesday. The march began in Ankara’s Güven Park and will end in front of Maltepe Prison in İstanbul, where Berberoğlu is jailed.
“Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu could go to Maltepe by taking a high-speed train. Turkey is a state of law. The court made a decision [about Berberoğlu]. There are legal ways to challenge it. They have not yet been exhausted. So we need to respect the court’s decision even if we don’t like it. Justice is the basis of the state. It cannot be sought in the street,” Yıldırım said during a speech in Diyarbakır on Friday.
A high criminal court in İstanbul on Wednesday handed down a prison sentence of 25 years to Berberoğlu for leaking information for a report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks transporting weapons to jihadists in Syria, sending him to prison immediately after the ruling was announced.
The arrest of Berberoğlu, who would normally enjoy parliamentary immunity, was possible because the CHP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had lent support to a proposal submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on removing deputies’ immunity from prosecution last year.
The immunity of all deputies who face probes was lifted in May 2016. Currently, 11 pro Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies are in jail on charges of terrorist links.
Yıldırım also reminded Kılıçdaroğlu that his party had supported elimination of the immunity of the deputies who face investigations.
“Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu knew that there would be trials [of deputies] as a result of the elimination of their immunity,” said Yıldırım.