First lawmakers called before prosecutor to give testimony after Turkey approves bill lifting immunities

Published 22.06.2016 16:11
Updated 22.06.2016 17:31

Summaries of proceedings regarding the removal of parliamentary immunities of some deputies are being referred to the relevant prosecutors' offices, and several deputies from the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) have been called for questioning by prosecutors.

The law was issued in the Official Gazette following the signing by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's of Law No. 6,178, after it passed Parliament with 376 votes on May 20, and case files were sent to prosecutors last week.

On Tuesday, 31 files that were prepared for seven HDP deputies, including HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, were submitted to the office of Diyarbakır's Chief Public Prosecutor. Media reported that 160 files in total submitted to the prosecutor's office include crimes such as being a member of a terrorist organization, the spreading of propaganda, supporting terrorism, and criminal incitement.

Following the submission of the files, the HDP's deputies for Muş, Ahmet Yıldırım and Burcu Çelik Özkan, were summoned yesterday by the prosecutor's office. However, both deputies were reportedly refused to go to testify on the same day, and the prosecutor's office will reportedly send a written communication to the deputies.

After the June 7 elections last year, Özkan censured the village guards, which act as local militias in towns and villages, protecting them against attacks and reprisals from the PKK. During party celebrations after receiving unexpected support from the public in the elections, Özkan told village guards, "You [village guards] will clear out of this country. We know well how to redirect the Kalashnikovs you pointed at us.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency at the parliament in Ankara, Yıldırım said he would refuse to give testimony at the Muş prosecutor's office. "We won't give testimony and we won't answer questions at the prosecutor's office," he said. "Yesterday they called us. We will go after our deputyship is over and our immunity has come to an end."

On June 10, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said 117 criminal cases involving 57 lawmakers had been sent to prosecutors across the country after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan approved the bill removing the immunity of 152 Grand National Assembly deputies three days earlier.

More than two-thirds are from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and HDP — 57 and 55 respectively — 29 are from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), 10 from the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and one independent deputy.

The charges the deputies face fall into three broad categories - insulting the president, supporting terrorism and other crimes such as corruption.

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