Turkish gov’t investigates all members of CHP party assembly over Erdoğan’s complaint

Turkish government has launched a legal investigation about 60 members of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) over autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, reported by Turkish media.

According to reports, prosecutors are investigating all 60 members of the CHP’s party assembly for “defaming and insulting the presidential post, the Turkish nation, state and its institutions,” upon complaints filed by the government and President Erdoğan in 2016.

News of the probes comes over one year after the complaints were filed, with prosecutors ruling to lift the immunity of CHP deputies in the council. Investigations into assembly members who are not deputies are ongoing. “This is the first time that the entire assembly of a political party has been subjected to a legal investigation,” CHP Istanbul deputy İlhan Cihaner told Hürriyet daily news on Thursday

Erdoğan’s lawyer Hüseyin Aydın issued a criminal complaint against all CHP assembly members and CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Nov. 8, 2016 for “insulting the president.” On the same day the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) issued a complaint about “defaming and insulting the presidential post, the Turkish nation, state and its institutions.”

The complaints came after the CHP assembly issued a statement on Nov. 6, 2016 condemning massive purges of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and journalists at daily Cumhuriyet.

“The palace and AKP officials who aided and abetted FETÖ [Fetullahist Terrorist Organization], the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party] and ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] are presenting the biggest threat to our democracy and the survival of our country,” the four-article statement read on Nov. 6, 2016

“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Islamist President Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement and opposition parties have also been parroting the same term.

In order to pursue the criminal case, prosecutors have issued summaries of proceedings against CHP deputies in the assembly and sent those proceedings to parliament in order to initiate the process to lift their immunity. To launch an investigation based on “defaming the Turkish nation,” deemed a crime in Article 301 of the country’s Criminal Code, prosecutors must receive approval from the Justice Ministry.

Meanwhile, another prosecutor demanded life in prison on Friday for CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu on espionage charges. Prosecutor Mustafa Öztürk demanded a life sentence for the Berberoğlu for “disclosing information that the state needed to be kept secret for political or military espionage purposes,” as he was on trial at an appeals court after being sentenced to 25 years in jail for allegedly “leaking state secrets” in the case regarding National Intelligence Agency (MİT) trucks which had reportedly carried weapons and ammunition to radical Islamist terror groups in Syria.

Berberoğlu was accused of providing daily Cumhuriyet with a video purporting to show the MİT transporting weapons to Syria. Berberoğlu’s lawyer Murat Ergün said the prosecutor did not consider a judicial progress.

“Writing the dictum based on this article shows that judicial progresses were not considered by the prosecutor. However, this dictum is not binding for the court,” he added. Berberoğlu’s trial has been postponed to Jan. 16, 2018. He will remain under arrest.

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