Turkey’s top appeals court to decide on jailed opposition MP despite Constitutional Court judgment: justice minister

Lawmaker Can Atalay

Turkish Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç has announced that the authorities will wait for a decision by the Supreme Court of Appeals in the case of imprisoned opposition lawmaker Can Atalay, whose detention was recently found to be in violation of his rights by the Constitutional Court, the Voice of America Turkish service reported on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters at the parliament, Tunç implicitly criticized the Constitutional Court, which on Oct. 25 had concluded that Atalay’s continued incarceration after being elected to the parliament violated several articles of the constitution. The minister accused the top court of being selective in interpreting the constitution and misleading the public.

Sentenced to 18 years in prison in April 2022 on charges of “assisting in the overthrow of the government” in a trial concerning the anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013, Atalay was kept behind bars despite winning a seat in the legislature in May from the ranks of the Workers Party of Turkey (TİP) and gaining parliamentary immunity.

A high criminal court in İstanbul refused to comply with the Constitutional Court ruling, forwarding it to the Supreme Court of Appeals, which had upheld Atalay’s conviction.

Atalay’s lawyers released a statement condemning the noncompliance of lower courts as indicative of the absence of the rule of law.

Turkey, where the judiciary is accused of being under the control of the government, was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) last week, dropping one rank in comparison to last year.

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