Turkey’s Court of Cassation releases CHP deputy Berberoğlu while upholding jail sentence

CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu

Turkey’s Court of Cassation has ruled for the release of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu while upholding his jail sentence.

Berberoğlu was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2017 on espionage charges for providing the Cumhuriyet newspaper with a video purporting to show Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucking weapons into Syria.

Following the publication of the report, Cumhuriyet’s then-editor-in-chief Can Dündar and then-Ankara representative Erdem Gül were arrested. Although Dündar and Gül were released pending trial in February 2016, in the course of the investigation the prosecutor discovered that the source of the reports was CHP deputy Berberoğlu.

His lawyers previously applied to the Supreme Court of Appeals for his release due to his re-election in the general election of June 24; however, the 16th and 17th Chambers rejected the application.

The arrest of Berberoğlu, the former editor-in-chief of the Hürriyet daily, led CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to start a “Justice March” from Ankara to İstanbul, where the prison in which Berberoğlu was incarcerated is located.

In a retrial that concluded on Feb. 13 of this year, Berberoğlu, who has denied the charges, was sentenced to five years, 10 months in prison.

The Court of Cassation upheld the conviction and sentence on Sept. 20 but ruled for Berberoğlu’s release until the end of his term in parliament. Berberoğlu was released from prison late Thursday.

The court’s ruling came after Berberoğlu’s lawyers said the MP was granted immunity from prosecution in the last election and that such a situation would stop the continuation of proceedings against him.

The Court of Cassation’s 16th Civil Chamber had rejected Berberoğlu’s appeal on Sept. 10, ruling that “re-election as a deputy does not grant immunity [from prosecution].”

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