Turkey’s top appeals court rejects jailed MP Can Atalay’s release

Turkey’s Court of Cassation has rejected jailed MP Can Atalay’s release, saying that parliamentary immunity does not cover the crime for which he was convicted.

Duvar English

Turkish Court of Cassation’s 3rd Penal Chamber has rejected the appeal against the ongoing imprisonment of Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) lawmaker Can Atalay

The top appeals court said that there are two exceptions to the parliamentary immunity and these crimes were been mentioned in the Constitution’s 14th Article under the title of “Prohibition of abuse of fundamental rights and freedoms.”

The court said that since Atalay has been convicted of a crime included in the Constitution’s 14th Article, he cannot benefit from parliamentary immunity as per the Constitution’s 83rd Article.

“It was decided unanimously on 13.07.2023 that since conditions did not come into existence, the demand for the suspension of the trial against defendant Şerafettin Can Atalay and for the defendant’s release be rejected,” read the decision, adding that the ruling can be appealed at the court’s 4th Chamber.

TİP slammed the decision, saying that the Court of Cassation has “trampled on the Constitutional Court’s ruling.” “We will not bow to the (Presidential) Palace and the judiciary working with its instruction,” TİP said on Twitter.

Under the Constitution's 83rd Article, there is only one obstacle for a person elected as an MP to gain legislative immunity. The right to immunity cannot be used if the lawmaker has been convicted of crimes mentioned in the 14th Article which have the aim "to violate the indivisible integrity of the State with its territory and nation, and to endanger the existence of the democratic and secular order of the Republic based on human rights."

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