Lawyers and TİP hold protest in front of Çağlayan Courthose, demanding imprisoned MP Atalay’s release

Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) deputies and lawyers held a protest in front of the Çağlayan Courthouse demanding the court's sign-off on imprisoned MP Atalay after the Constitutional Court's ruling. The group spent the day at the Courthouse awaiting an answer.

Can Bursalı / Gazete Duvar

Lawyers and Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) members on Oct. 30 held a protest in front of the Çağlayan Courthouse to demand the imprisoned TİP deputy Can Atalay’s release. The deputies had started to stake out at the courthouse for an answer, as Atalay's Constitutional Court (AYM) verdict was ignored for six days.

TİP İstanbul deputy Sera Kadıgil shared moments earlier in the day when tensions rose between officers of the court and people awaiting Atalay’s proceedings. The court was supposed to finalize its verdict on Oct. 30. 

Following the quarrel, Kadıgil and the lawyers of Atalay entered the corridor where the panel of judges’ offices were located. 

The panel of judges entered another hearing that will go on for five days. When Atalay’s colleagues asked about the developments in the case, court president Hüseyin Özdemir said, “One presiding judge is a temporary officer. We need to fill her in about the case, and we will see once this hearing is over."

Atalay’s colleagues learned that the temporary officer in question was replacing Judge Murat Bircan, who was on a three-day sick leave. Judge Bircan had voted in favor of convicting the defendants of the Gezi Trial. Accordingly, Judge Bircan was present at the courthouse the previous week. Bircan in 2018 was a deputy candidate from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

Atalay’s lawyers hold that the Constitutional Court verdict is binding, and the absence of any judges does not constitute a valid reason for postponing Atalay’s release. 

Head of TİP Erkan Baş held a press statement in front of the courthouse that evening. He said, "The court is awaiting orders from elsewhere to proceed. The Gezi prisoners are captives of [President Erdoğan's] palace." 

AYM on Oct. 25 ruled that imprisoned TİP MP Can Atalay’s "right to vote and be elected” and “right to personal security and liberty" were violated. Following the verdict, Atalay’s lawyers expected his immediate release and his inauguration as the elected deputy of the Hatay province. 

The Justice Deputy had stated, "We need to assess the reasoned decision before making any statements. If the Constitutional Court has determined a violation of rights, we will act accordingly once we have reviewed the reasoning."

Hours after the crowd dispersed, the court published its decision to refer the case to the Court of Cassation, the top appeals court, holding off on the release required by the AYM verdict.

What had happened?

Atalay was among the seven defendants who were sentenced to 18 years in prison in the Gezi Park trial. He was convicted for “assisting to the attempted abolishment of the government." 

Atalay was elected as a Hatay deputy in the May 14 general elections yet, all the lower courts rejected his release from the prison on the grounds that parliamentary immunity does not cover the crime for which he was convicted. The Constitutional Court application was the last domestic judicial authority that had the power to rule for Atalay’s release.

(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)