Turkish prosecutor presses new charges against main opposition CHP leader, four deputies

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and the number of opposition deputies will be probed for their political speeches. The Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office has prepared summary of proceedings for CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu and two other CHP deputies, along with two deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

The legal action from politicised Turkish judiciary against opposition figures came after a complaint by Turkey’s controversial High Election Board (YSK) over his comments aired on private broadcaster Fox TV on Sept. 12, 2017 when he was speaking about the April 16 referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system, the prosecutor’s office stated on Wednesday.

“We have sent our election observers to polls, except those in rural areas in southeast Turkey. There were security problems there, and those ballot boxes turned out 90 percent ‘Yes’ vote. We are guessing why. We also collected 74 percent of tally sheets in the party headquarters to protect our votes. But we couldn’t foresee that the electoral board could issue a decision against the law. We couldn’t imagine it,” had said Kılıçdaroğlu.

Another summary of proceedings was prepared for Özgür Özel, CHP’s deputy chair of parliamentary group, for allegedly breaking a door in parliament in order to take a computer and display it at the general assembly.

Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a lawyer, human rights defender and CHP deputy, also face legal action over his statements about civilian causalities during military operations supported by unmanned aerial vehicles. Tanrıkulu has said one of Turkish military’s drone strikes killed civilians in Hakkari, and demanded an investigation. Tanrıkulu has also shared the photo of civilians taken at the same place during a picnic, a few weeks prior to the aerial attack.

CHP has supported a bid by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government under the rule of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to lift the immunity from prosecution in 2016. Since then, dozens of deputies have been arrested, and put in the jail. Among them were Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, the co-chairs of HDP, which is the second largest opposition party at the Turkish Parliament.

Prosecutors have also sent the Justice Ministry motions for HDP deputy Sibel Yiğitalp over comments on Twitter, and her fellow legislator Ayşe Acar Başaran for a speech in August 2017.

CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu, HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, former HDP co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ and nine other HDP lawmakers are currently in jail on several charges.

Separately, the Constitutional Court has announced that it will file a criminal complaint against senior officials of the CHP for not providing necessary documents and not cooperating in 2013 audits of the party’s accounts. The unanimous verdict of the Court was published in the Official Gazette on Dec. 12. The Court stated that it found irregularities in the main opposition party’s documents on incomes and expenditures in its 2013 accounts.

The verdict noted that 108,797 Turkish Liras had been added to the CHP’s revenues not in due form, ordering the transfer of this amount of money from the party to the Treasury.

It also added that a number of documents and information sought by the Constitutional Court had not been provided by the CHP, in addition to attempts to hinder the Court’s investigation of the party’s books. As a result, the Court said it will file a criminal complaint against some party officials over lack of cooperation.

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