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CHP leader faces revocation of parliamentary immunity for playing leaked graft tapes in 2014 speech

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A presidential decree including a summary of proceedings seeking the removal of the parliamentary immunity of Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for replaying audio recordings confirming allegations in a 2013 bribery investigation implicating high-ranking government officials during a speech he gave in February 2014 has found its way to the Turkish parliament, the Duvar news website reported on Thursday.

The December 17-25 bribery and corruption investigations, which implicated the family members of four cabinet ministers as well as the children of then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, shook the country back in 2013.

As part of the first investigation, the sons of three then-ministers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were detained on Dec. 17, 2013. A week later another investigation involved Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan.

Despite the scandal resulting in the resignation of the cabinet members, the 2013 investigation was dropped after prosecutors and police chiefs were removed from the case. Erdoğan, officials of the ruling AKP and the pro-government media described the investigation as an attempt to overthrow the government.

In January 2014 phone recordings allegedly part of the 2013 bribery investigation surfaced on the internet.

On Feb. 11, 2014, during a parliamentary group meeting, Kılıçdaroğlu played some of these recordings, which included conversations between businessmen about the purchase of the Sabah newspaper and the ATV network at Erdoğan’s request to create a pro-government bastion in the Turkish media.

The investigation into Kılıçdaroğlu was deemed not appropriate for prosecution in April 2014. Following an appeal by Erdoğan’s lawyers, an Ankara court overturned the decision, leading to a new investigation into the incident.

In 2016 the charge of violating the confidentiality of an investigation was brought against the CHP chairman.

On April 16, 2021 the court decided to stay the proceedings against Kılıçdaroğlu due to his parliamentary immunity and transmitted the file to the presidency, which then conveyed it to the parliament in the form of a presidential decree.

Following this move by the court the parliamentary speaker’s office forwarded the file to the relevant committee, Duvar said.

In addition to Kılıçdaroğlu, 64 opposition lawmakers face removal of their immunity from prosecution.

If parliament votes to strip the deputies of their immunity, they will be tried by Turkish courts.

The prosecution of members of parliament has been possible since the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lent support to a 2016 proposal submitted by the ruling AKP on removing deputies’ immunity from prosecution.

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