Turkish court halts YSP MP's trial due to legislative immunity

A Turkish court has ruled to halt the trial of opposition Green Left Party lawmaker Meral Danış Beştaş over the 2014 Kobanê protests due to regaining her legislative immunity by being elected as a lawmaker.

Duvar English

A Diyarbakır Criminal Court on Oct. 5 ruled that pro-Kurdish opposition Green Left Party (YSP) deputy Meral Danış Bektaş cannot be part of the Kobanê trials until her legislative immunity ends.

The prosecution had opened a lawsuit against the lawmaker in April 2016 for the crimes on the charges of “membership to an illegal organization,” “inciting to commit a crime,” and “violation of the law on meetings and demonstrations,” as the parliament lifted the defendants' immunity, who were Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MPs.

In the last hearing, the prosecution demanded to halt the trial as Beştaş was elected as a YSP deputy for the eastern province Erzurum in the May 14 elections, regaining her legislative immunity. The court decided in favor of the demand and paused the trial until Beştaş’ her immunity lifts.

This is the first abatement ruling for the deputies of YSP deputies in the new term.

What happened?

The Kobanê protests took place between Oct. 6 and 8, 2014 in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast district of Suruç in Şanlıurfa province. Citizens protested the Turkish government's inaction in protecting Syrian Kurds as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) besieged Kobanê right across the Syrian border.

The prosecutor’s indictment accuses 108 defendants, 17 of whom are jailed, of several crimes, including the murders of 37 people and “disrupting the unity and integrity of the state.” Among the defendants are former HDP deputies, including co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.

In May 2016, the Turkish Parliament voted in favor of lifting the legislative immunities of deputies who were defendants in the trial upon President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s request. The prosecution is seeking charges of up to aggravated life sentences, for allegedly organizing and inciting the violence.