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Jailed MP petitions Turkey’s top court claiming rights violations

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Can Atalay, an opposition lawmaker from the Workers Party of Turkey (TİP), has filed a petition with Turkey’s Constitutional Court claiming that he has been subjected to several rights violations due to his continued incarceration despite his parliamentary immunity, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

Atalay’s lawyers petitioned the top court on Thursday after two criminal chambers of the Supreme Court of Appeals rejected applications for his release from prison.

In their application the lawyers claimed the 36th and 13th articles of the Turkish Constitution, which concern the right to a fair trial and the restriction of fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as the 6th and 17th articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, which concern the right to a fair trial and a prohibition of the abuse of rights, have been violated in Atalay’s case.

The lawyers also claimed Article 67 of the Turkish Constitution, which concerns one’s right to elect, stand for election and engage in political activities, has been violated.

The lawyers asked the court to take the necessary steps for the elimination of the rights violations suffered by their client and to end his incarceration.

Atalay is a human rights lawyer who was elected to parliament from the southern province of Hatay in the May 14 elections but hasn’t been released from prison despite acquiring parliamentary immunity with his seat in the legislature.

According to the Supreme Court of Appeals, parliamentary immunity does not cover crimes that require a severe punishment and may not be applied, either, when an investigation was launched before the election of the jailed person to parliament. The court based its decision on the 14th and 83rd articles of the Turkish Constitution.

Atalay is one of seven defendants sentenced to 18 years by an İstanbul court in April 2022 in a trial concerning the anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013, which erupted over government plans to demolish Gezi Park in Taksim. After an appellate court ruled in December that the April verdict “complied with the law,” the defense appealed the case at Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals.

Following the court’s decision last week, Atalay, who is jailed in İstanbul’s Silivri Prison, made a statement on Twitter through his lawyers and called on everyone to speak out against the injustice against him and for all the people suffering from injustice in the country.

He also called on Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş and members of his council to come to Silivri Prison to allow him to take the parliamentary oath since he is unable to go to parliament.

In early July TİP started a sit-in at the Turkish Parliament in support of Atalay.

Last week main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu visited Atalay in Silivri Prison and called for his release.

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