Turkish prosecutor seeks to lift immunity of main opposition leader over MHP complaint

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CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has prepared a summary of proceedings against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), for the removal of his parliamentary immunity so he can be tried on charges of “praising an offense and an offender,” the Sözcü daily reported on Saturday.

The move reportedly came after a committee of lawmakers from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), including three vice chairmen, filed a complaint against the CHP leader due to his speeches in parliament which they claimed praised an offense and offender.

The 10-page summary of proceedings against Kılıçdaroğlu seeks a sentence of three years in prison while also depriving him of exercising certain rights in accordance with Article 53 of Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

Among those rights are voting or being elected and becoming a member of the Turkish Parliament or undertaking employment as an appointed or elected public official within the administration of the state, a province, a municipality or a village.

For the first time in the parliament’s history, a summary of proceedings has been prepared against a main opposition leader following a complaint filed by a committee of lawmakers, Sözcü said.

The elements of crime presented by the prosecutor in the summary of proceedings against Kılıçdaroğlu includes his speeches in parliament regarding the arrest of former pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtaş, the ousting of democratically elected pro-Kurdish mayors and the leader’s criticism of the government’s growing influence on the judiciary.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has removed from office 59 of 65 mayors from the HDP, replacing them with government-appointed trustees, over accusations of ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a secessionist Kurdish group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey.

The ousted mayors were elected in the local elections of March 2019, when the ruling AKP suffered a significant blow by losing the mayoralties of three major cities — İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir — to main opposition candidates.

“MHP lawmakers accuse me of praising terror because I said it’s not right to keep [human rights defender] Osman Kavala, Selahattin Demirtaş and [journalists] Ahmet Altan and Müyesser Yıldız behind bars. The prosecutor prepared a summary of proceedings against me based on those accusations. And now we’re dealing with informant lawmakers,” the CHP leader had previously said in commenting on the issue.

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