A local court on Oct. 13 rejected former main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu’s demand for a retrial despite a previous top court ruling, in a move that was deemed by the CHP leader as “unconstitutional.”
The 14th Heavy Penal Court has ignored the Sept. 17 ruling of the Constitutional Court, which said that the politician’s right to compete in elections and to conduct politics as well as his right to personal liberty and security had been violated.
The top court said that the ruling will be sent to the Court of Cassation so that a retrial takes place for the outcomes of the violations to be eliminated.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu slammed the local court’s decision.
“If a lower court says that it won’t abide by the decisions of an upper court, we have a problem and decaying there. We all need to react against this decaying,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that the local court’s move is unconstitutional.
“The constitution binds us all, but a local court says it won’t abide by it. So, a citizen can say, ‘I’m not going to pay taxes.’ This forms the basis of chaos. This is not the area to fight. It’s the area of justice. Not abiding by a Constitutional Court ruling prepares the basis of chaos,” he added.
Berberoğlu was sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail in the case involving a 2014 story on National Intelligence Agency (MİT) trucks filled with weapons bound for Syria. He was accused of providing footage of the trucks to journalist Can Dündar and was sent to prison in 2017.
He was re-elected to the parliament in the June 24, 2018 elections but was not released from jail until Sept. 20, 2018, when the Court of Cassation postponed the execution of the sentence due to his re-election as a lawmaker.
On June 4, Turkish parliament stripped Berberoğlu of his status as a deputy, along with two other lawmakers from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). After this move, Berberoğlu was arrested again to serve the remaining of his sentence. But on the same day, Berberoğlu was transferred from open prison to house arrest as part of measures against the coronavirus.
During the trial process, Berberoğlu applied to the Constitutional Court saying that it is against the law for the trial process to continue against a lawmaker who has automatically gained immunity from prosecution with re-election. He said that his continued imprisonment despite his re-election as a member of parliament on June 24, 2018 had violated his rights.
After the Constitutional Court ruled that Enis Berberoğlu’s rights were violated, his lawyer Murat Ergün has called for the reinstatement of the deputy status.