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Opposition MP faces removal of immunity due to remarks about minister

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A Turkish prosecutor has filed a summary of proceedings for a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) that may cause him to lose his parliamentary immunity, accusing him of issuing threats against Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in televised remarks, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.

CHP MP Ali Mahir Başarır spoke at a public event organized by a district municipality in western Balıkesir province in August, saying that a large number of ministers and lawmakers, especially Soylu, would face trial if the CHP came to power in the 2023 elections.

“There’s no forgiving him. There’s no forgiving him, ever. You know that,” Başarır said, referring to Soylu, whose shadowy relations with the mafia have been a hot topic in the Turkish media ever since notorious mob boss Sedat Peker, who lives in exile in the UAE, started making scandalous claims regarding the minister in May 2021.

Peker had previously claimed that it was connections to his family that had helped Soylu rise through the ranks of the right-wing True Path Party (DYP) before he joined the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2012 at the invitation of then-prime minister and current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He also claimed that Soylu helped him avoid police prosecution by notifying him that an investigation was being prepared against him, before he fled Turkey in early 2020. The mob boss further said Soylu previously told people that he and Erdoğan “liked” Peker.

The prosecutor on Friday sent parliament the summary of proceedings against Başarır in which he said the MP’s remarks about Soylu constituted the legal elements of the crime of issuing a threat and that it had therefore become necessary to demand the lifting of Başarır’s parliamentary immunity so he can face trial, Anadolu said.

Speaking to the Gerçek Gündem news website about the summary of proceedings against him, Başarır said he stood behind everything he had said about Soylu and that it was “a shame” that he heard about the issue from pro-government media outlets since the Justice Ministry shared the development with the media prior to informing parliament’s Justice Committee about it.

Former CHP MP Mehmet Tüm, former CHP İstanbul branch deputy chair Murat Akbaş and Erkan Baş, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), also face investigations for the speeches they made at the same event.

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. The immunity of all deputies who faced prosecution was lifted in May 2016.

In addition to Başarır, more than 60 opposition politicians, including CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, face removal of their immunity from prosecution. If parliament votes to strip the deputies of their immunity, they will be tried by Turkish courts.

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