Turkey: Measure lifting immunity could face court test

Turkey: Measure lifting immunity could face court test

Peoples' Democratic Party co-chair says they need the support of 52 deputies to ask court to overturn law

ANKARA (AA) – The head of Turkish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said Friday he hopes the nation’s Constitutional Court will overturn a measure stripping some of the party’s parliamentary deputies of their immunity.

Turkey's parliament on Friday approved a bill to lift the immunity of 138 deputies facing criminal charges, which paves the way for judicial proceedings to begin against them. The bill still needs final approval by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before becoming law.

But People’s Democratic Party Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtas told reporters outside parliament in Ankara on Friday they would try to have the Constitutional Court hear the issue.

“We need the support of 52 other deputies to apply to the Constitutional Court to annul the amendment,” he said.

“If there are 52 deputies in Parliament who oppose that ‘coup’, let them sign our application.”

Demirtas said once the deputies start to sign the application next week, everyone will see “if there are 52 brave souls” in parliament.

The application needs to be signed by at least 110 deputies to be considered by the Constitutional Court.

The People’s Democratic Party won 59 seats in parliament in the June 2015 elections, but one of its deputies, Leyla Zana, intentionally changed some words of her parliamentary oath. Later she refused to retake the oath, effectively meaning she never took her seat.

Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman announced Friday that out of the 550-seat parliament, the measure stripping immunity passed by a vote of 376-140.

The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, which has 316 seats, and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party or MHP, which has 40 seats, both backed the bill.

Demirtas said that some main opposition Republican People’s Party Deputies also backed the vote.

Yes votes of 367 or more were needed for passage, a target which was comfortably met with 376 votes.

Out of 138 lawmakers facing criminal charges who would have their immunity stripped by the measure, 27 belong to the ruling Justice and Development or AK Party, 51 from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), 50 from the HDP, nine from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and one independent from Ankara, former CHP Deputy Aylin Nazliaka.

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