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Jailed MP again petitions top court over continued incarceration

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An opposition lawmaker who remains jailed despite a Constitutional Court ruling in his favor has petitioned the top court again because no action has been taken for his release, the Bianet news website reported.

Counsel for Can Atalay, a lawyer and rights activist who was elected to parliament in May from the Workers Party of Turkey (TİP), petitioned the top court asking the court to once again rule that Atalay’s right to a fair trial, the right to elect, stand for election and engage in political activities as well as his right to liberty and security are being violated. The lawyers asked the court to put an end to the violations suffered by Atalay, which would mean his release from prison.

The Constitutional Court had already announced its ruling in Atalay’s case on Oct. 25 and said Turkey violated Article 67 of the Turkish Constitution, which concerns the right to elect, stand for election and engage in political activities, as well as Article 19, involving the right to liberty and security. Atalay would also be paid TL 50,000 in non-pecuniary damages in line with the court’s ruling.

But the Supreme Court of Appeals, which upheld an 18-year conviction for Atalay in the Gezi Park trial in September, defied this decision, sparking widespread criticism and accusations of a judicial coup.

The Supreme Court of Appeals also filed criminal complaints against the members of the Constitutional Court due to their ruling for Atalay, which was a first in Turkey for the members of a top court to take legal action against their colleagues in another top court.

The Turkish judiciary faces widespread criticism for its perceived lack of independence. Critics accuse Erdoğan of exerting control over the judiciary and establishing one-man rule in the country, particularly after a coup attempt in 2016, following which he launched a massive crackdown on non-loyalist citizens and the country’s subsequent transition to a presidential system of governance, which granted him vast powers.

Many say there is no longer a separation of powers in the country and that members of the judiciary are under the control of the government and cannot make judgments based on law.

In a development that validated the critics, Turkey was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in October, dropping one rank in comparison to last year.

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