Court ban on newly elected Turkish politicians stirs tension

15:30, June 24, 2011      

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Turkish court ruled out Thursday against the release of two jailed newly elected candidates of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), blocking them to take their seats in the parliament.

Istanbul court rejected their applications, since there was "no legal ground for their demands for release," semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.

Journalist Mustafa Balbay and Academic Mehmet Haberal have been under custody on suspicion of being member of "Ergenekon terror organization" which is allegedly trying to topple the current government.

Balbay and Haberal won parliamentary seats in the June 12 elections as the CHP candidates. After the election, lawyers of Balbay and Haberal applied to the court for their release.

The court also ruled that the evidences were not collected entirely, pleadings of some suspects were not taken and a strong suspicion of crime continued.

The court's decision drew harsh reaction from the CHP. "We are a big party and we will not be left helpless. We'll take the necessary steps to ensure their release," Gursel Tekin, deputy chairman of the CHP, told reporters on Thursday.

"This is disrespect towards citizens and it's a legal singularity," CHP deputy leader Engin Altay told reporters. Stressing they would take necessary legal steps, Altay said, "No one can be above the citizens. This is a blow to parliament and to democracy."

CHP Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu called for an urgent gathering to decide the party's roadmap. Balbay's lawyer said they would appeal the decision in a higher court.

The decision was correct according to constitution, lawyer Kezban Hatemi told local NTV news channel. "The laws state that someone who stood trial on the crime of planning a coup cannot be a deputy," said she, adding even if they were pardoned of their crimes.

The decision came up one day after Turkey's Supreme Election Board cancelled the parliament seat of a Kurdish politician, which already warmed up tension in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

Turkey's newly elected pro-Kurdish candidates, who are supported by Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), decided Thursday to boycott Turkey's parliament. The decision was taken after Turkey's electoral board declined the parliament seat of Hatip Dicle, another Kurdish politician.

"We will not go to parliament until the government takes a concrete step to remedy this injustice and provide opportunities for a settlement by opening the way for democratic politics," Serafettin Elci, one of the independent Kurdish candidates, told reporters in a press conference after pro-Kurdish politicians gathered in Diyarbakir city in souteastern Turkey in order to discuss a boycott. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) should "immediately return stolen deputy seat to its owner," he added.

The decision of boycott, not to go Parliament when it opens on June 28, does not require Kurdish politicians to drop their deputy status.

The move could spark protests in southeast Turkey and raise tension.

The High Electoral Board of Turkey announced late Tuesday that Hatip Dicle, who was elected as an independent representative from Diyarbakir city, could not take a seat in the newly elected parliament. He was supported by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) which won 36 seats in the 550-member parliament.

Dicle was convicted for speech deemed propaganda for outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which has led a bloody separatist insurgency in the southeast since 1984.

Five other Kurdish politicians, who were elected in June 12 elections with support of BDP, have been awaiting trial on charges of collaborating with the PKK. Their lawyers also have applied for their release of Kurdish politicians.

Source: Xinhua
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