Turkey’s top appeals court has denied an application requesting the release from prison of an opposition lawmaker from the Workers Party of Turkey (TİP), Deutsche Welle Turkish edition reported.
The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on the petition to free TİP lawmaker Can Atalay on Thursday.
Before the court announced its decision, hopes were high about Atalay’s release from prison, with his lawyer saying his client’s freedom was imminent.
Atalay is a human rights lawyer who was elected to parliament from the southern province of Hatay in the May 14 elections but hasn’t been released from prison despite acquiring parliamentary immunity with his seat in the legislature.
According to the court, parliamentary immunity does not cover crimes that require a heavy punishment and may not be applied, either, when an investigation was launched before the election of the jailed person to parliament. The court based its decision on the 14th and 83rd articles of the Turkish Constitution.
The decision can be appealed at the top court’s 4th Criminal Chamber within a week.
Atalay is one of seven defendants sentenced to 18 years by an İstanbul court in April 2022 in a trial concerning the anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013, which erupted over government plans to demolish Gezi Park in Taksim. After an appellate court ruled in December that the April verdict “complied with the law,” the defense appealed the case at Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals.
Following the court’s decision, Atalay, who is jailed in İstanbul’s Silivri Prison, made a statement on Twitter through his lawyers and called on everyone to speak out against the injustice against him and for all the people suffering from injustice in the country.
He also called on Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş and members of his council to come to Silivri Prison to allow him to take the parliamentary oath since he is unable to come to parliament.
Last week TİP started a sit-in at the Turkish Parliament in support of Atalay.
On Wednesday main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu visited Atalay in Silivri Prison and called for his release.