Amnesty bill prepared by Turkish president’s ultranationalist ally to pardon over 160,000 convicts

A law proposed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ultranationalist ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) could allow for 162,989 convicts to be pardoned, according to a report by the Cumhuriyet daily on Saturday.

Speaking on the details of the proposed law, MHP Deputy Chairman Fethi Yıldız said that the eight-article amnesty bill excludes prisoners convicted of membership in the Gülen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The MHP’s bill also excludes amnesty for those convicted on charges of crimes against Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, as well as charges of child abuse and fatal domestic abuse, Yıldız said.

The proposal, which will be presented to the Turkish Parliament on Monday, also stipulates that prisoners convicted of crimes committed before May 19, 2018 receive a five-year reduction in sentence, according to the Cumhuriyet report.

Yıldız noted that under current law, an inmate convicted of homicide who received a 24-year sentence serves two thirds (16 years) of their sentence. The MHP’s bill proposes that the same convict serve 11 years in prison, with those who have completed 11 years being released from prison.

The proposed amnesty has come under scrutiny for MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli’s connections to gang leader Alaattin Çakıcı, jailed in connection to 41 murders. Bahçeli visited Çakıcı in the run-up to the June elections and called for his release, saying, “How just and fair is it to leave these brothers of ours rotting behind bars?”

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement. (SCH with Ahval)

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