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MHP submits amnesty bill to Turkish parliament expecting 160,000 prisoners to benefit

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The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Monday submitted an amnesty bill to the Turkish Parliament Speaker’s Office, with party officials saying more than 160,000 prisoners would “benefit” from the amnesty, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

The bill covers prisoners convicted of committing a crime before May 19, when discussions about a general amnesty began, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“A total of 162,989 people will benefit from the amnesty,” MHP Deputy Chairman Feti Yıldız said, the Demirören news agency reported over the weekend.

Prisoners who committed crimes before May 19 will be subject to one-off, five-year conditional reduced sentences, he added. “Crimes committed against the state, terrorism, sexual abuse and murder will be excluded from the bill,” he said.

“The physical conditions in prisons are inadequate. Occupancy rates are causing violations of the human rights of people there. There is a 211,274-person capacity in Turkey’s 449 prisons,” he said.

“But as of [Sept. 21], a total of 253,535 people were imprisoned. The health of people in prisons is deteriorating and it is becoming harder to live there with dignity and self-respect,” Yıldız said in their reasoning behind presenting the bill.

The MHP has long called for granting pardons for some prisoners, vowing to bring it to the country’s agenda during campaigns ahead of elections in June, during which time it entered into an alliance with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). But the AKP at the time had said the issue was not on its agenda.

On Sunday President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said their intent was to grant amnesty only to convicts who had committed crimes against the state, saying crimes against individuals cannot be subject to amnesty. He said they would discuss the bill if submitted to parliament by the MHP.

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli had previously demanded that notorious mafia leaders Alaattin Çakıcı and Kürşat Yılmaz be able to benefit from the general amnesty.

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