Constitutional court rejects top prosecutor’s request to block funds for pro-Kurdish party

HDP gathering

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has rejected a request from a top Turkish prosecutor to block state funds allocated to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for the May 14 general election, Turkish Minute reported, citing Deutsche Welle Turkish service.

Bekir Şahin, the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, filed a closure case against the HDP in March 2021, accusing it of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s southeast since 1984 and is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

The prosecutor demanded the ban on the grounds that the HDP did not run in the May general election. The party took part in the election under the banner of the Green Left Party (YSP) to avoid the risk of its possible closure before the election. The YSP received 8.8 percent of the nationwide vote and won 61 seats in parliament.

The Constitutional Court on Monday reviewed Şahin’s request to temporarily block state assistance in the amount of TL 400,228,000 ($16.9 million) to the HDP and the possibility of recovering the funds from the party or the individuals responsible for expenditures if any of that amount has been spent.

According to the Law on Political Parties, during years when general elections are held, political parties are provided with three times the state assistance that is normally allocated to them.

The court ruled unanimously that there was no basis for a decision regarding this request, pointing out that it was unrelated to the closure case against the party and that it falls within the scope of financial auditing of political parties.

It was noted that there is no provision in the constitution or the Law on Political Parties that grants the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals authority or jurisdiction in this matter.

It was further mentioned that according to the regulations that cover the financial audit of political parties, the relevant year’s financial audit has not yet started, making it “impossible” for the Constitutional Court to make such a move against the party at this stage.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik said the top court’s decision would “create vulnerabilities in terms of measures to be taken against terrorism.”

In a controversial decision in January, the Constitutional Court suspended funding for the HDP, depriving the party of a key source of income heading into the May elections, on the grounds that it has links to terrorism.

The court reversed its decision by a majority of votes in early March.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuses the HDP of being the political wing of the PKK, and his AKP government has been trying to close down the party since March 2021 over its alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdish militants.

The HDP denies links to the PKK and accuses the government of targeting the party because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan. The party says it is being singled out for standing up for Kurdish rights and resisting the government’s expanding clampdown on political freedoms and dissent.

The Constitutional Court has the option of dissolving the party or banning some of its members from politics if it rules against the HDP.

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