Enis Berberoğlu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who was stripped of his status as a deputy on June 4, has been transferred from open prison to house arrest until the end of July as part of measures against the novel coornavirus.
“Enis Berberoğlu has been sent home as the coronavirus precautions taken for the epidemic at the open prisons have been extended until the end of July,” Berberoğlu’s lawyer Yiğit Acar told Gazete Duvar late on June 5.
Along with pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers Leyla Güven and Musa Farisoğulları, Berberoğlu lost his parliamentary status on June 4. All of the opposition deputies were arrested hours later.
Güven and Farisoğulları were jailed in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, whereas Berberoğlu was sent to Istanbul’s Maltepe Open Prison.
Berberoğlu was sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail in the case into a 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 arrested.
Turkey’s Court of Cassation approved the conviction of Berberoğlu in 2018, while postponing the execution of the sentence due to his re-election as a member of parliament in the June 24 elections.
As Berberoğlu served a part of his sentence prior to his re-election, he has 18 months left in his sentence.
The Turkish parliament in April approved a law that relaxed sentencing requirements and reduced the prison population by nearly a third, in response to the risk that the coronavirus could spread in jails. The new law temporarily released roughly 45,000 prisoners from open prisons and moved them to house arrest.
“The release of our Istanbul deputy Enis Berberoğlu as part of coronavirus measures until July 31 does not change the grim reality that the unlawful processes have been increasing, the will of the people has been seized and continues to be seized,” CHP’s Istanbul chair Canan Kaftancıoğu wrote on Twitter.
HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan also commented on Berberoğlu’s release, saying: “We are of course pleased about the release of Enis Berberoğlu, but can coronavirus not infect other politicians in jails?”
Güven and Farisoğulları were sentenced for membership of a terrorist organisation to six years three months and nine years respectively.
HDP deputies are often accused of having links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A number of its deputies were stripped of their statuses in the past and scores of HDP members, including former lawmakers and mayors, are currently imprisoned.