Turkish opposition leader risks losing immunity over defence of Kurdish politician

The Ankara chief public prosecutor has issued a motion to lift parliamentary immunity of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu so the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) can face charges for praising a criminal, daily Sözcü reported on Saturday.

A committee from the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), including three of the junior government partner’s deputy chairmen, pressed charges against Kılıçdaroğlu for a total of 10 speeches he delivered.

The prosecutor dismissed seven of the speeches as not containing criminal elements, but moved forward with three others where Kılıçdaroğlu said the government had politicised the judiciary, and criticised the dismissal of Kurdish mayors and the continued arrest of Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş.

The motion to lift Kılıçdaroğlu’s immunity has been sent to the Parliamentary Speaker’s office, but would need to be voted on to go into effect. The vote won’t happen until lawmakers decide to include it in the agenda.

As of August, 1,020 motions on 175 deputies are waiting at the parliamentary justice commission. The majority are on the two largest opposition blocs, with 54 deputies from the pro-Kurdish left-wing opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) facing 774 motions and 95 deputies from the centre-left CHP facing 225. 

Earlier in June, three opposition deputies lost their parliamentary statuses when the general assembly moved to vote on the motions on them. In November 2017, 12 deputies from the HDP were detained and nine of them -including Demirtaş himself- were arrested after a constitutional amendment lifted all parliamentary immunities.