A Turkish deputy in parliament said that jailed pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker İdris Baluken can die in prison, Özgür Özel, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Group Deputy Chair said.
During a parliamentary debate on a judicial bill that aims to ease the overcrowding in Turkish prisons as a precaution against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Özel criticized the fact that political prisoners are left out of the bill that’s expected to free 90,000 convicts and arrestees.
“We all worked with İdris Baluken. He is a talented individual. One day they took Mr. İdris away [to prison] and afterwards he was released. Then, all group deputy chairs voiced discontent and sadness from the fact that he was arrested,” Özel said on April 9, adding that all group deputy chairs listened to Baluken’s experiences from his time in prison in shock.
“He was rearrested, but there are no changes in his case file. Now, when we ask whether he should die in prison, the answer is ‘They can.’ Someone said ‘He can die’ at the back,” Özel also said, while refraining from naming the lawmaker.
Baluken, a deputy from the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016 as part of a crackdown on HDP lawmakers, including then-co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, on charges linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
A court ruled for his release on the first hearing held on Jan. 30, 2017 but was rearrested on Feb. 21 after a prosecutor objected to the release ruling.
The indictment into Baluken cited his participation in 10 press briefings and rallies, as well as a speech he made in the general assembly of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) that he attended as a representative of the HDP.
He was sentenced to 16 years in 8 months in prison.
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