Main opposition calls on parliament to hold extraordinary session for jailed MP Atalay

Erkan Baş (L), the leader of Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP) and his party's MPs Sera Kadıgil (C) and Ahmet Şık (R) display a portrait of TIP's jailed MP Can Atalay during a swearing-in ceremony at the Turkish parliament in Ankara on June 2, 2023. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has called on parliament to convene in an extraordinary session to discuss the case of opposition lawmaker Can Atalay, who remains jailed despite two decisions by the Constitutional Court (AYM) in his favor, Turkish Minute reported on Friday, citing local media.

According to reports, the CHP requested in a petition from Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş that an extraordinary meeting be held at 3 p.m. local time on January 9 to discuss Atalay’s situation.

The call comes after the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals dismissed the AYM’s second ruling, which held that the rights of Atalay, a newly elected parliamentarian from the Workers Party of Turkey (TİP), had been violated.

This defiance follows the appeals court’s first refusal to abide by an AYM ruling in November, when the appeals judges also filed criminal complaints against the AYM members who rendered the decision favoring Atalay.

Before the AYM rulings, the high appeals court upheld an 18-year sentence for Atalay in the Gezi Park trial in September.

Legal professionals and academics underlined that the appeals court’s decision is unconstitutional and raises fears over the safety of basic rights and freedoms in Turkey.

The results of a “Turkey’s Pulse” survey by Metropoll also revealed on Thursday that an overwhelming majority of Turks, 60 percent, disapprove of non-compliance with decisions of the AYM.

Prior to the latest crisis, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan already faced accusations of controlling the judiciary and establishing one-man rule.

Turkey is ranked 117th in the World Justice Project’s rule of law index, reflecting concerns over judicial independence.

However, many see this latest episode as the final nail in the coffin and Turkey’s descent into complete autocracy as the government-controlled judges do not even bother to abide by the procedural hierarchy or maintain appearances.

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