Turkey

Turkey MPs held in probe for failing to answer summons

HDP lawmakers detained after failing to appear for testimony in terror investigatio

04.11.2016
Turkey MPs held in probe for failing to answer summons

ANKARA

The co-chairs and seven other deputies of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were remanded in custody Friday for failing to answer summons linked to a counter-terrorism investigation before public prosecutors, a judicial source said.

Friday's move came after prosecutors in Turkey’s east and southeast ordered the arrests of the party co-leaders, Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas, along with 13 other HDP deputies, according to an Interior Ministry statement.

The detentions were carried out across Turkey in Ankara, Diyarbakir, Hakkari, Van, Sirnak and Bingol provinces.

Apart from Demirtas and Yuksekdag, the party's parliamentary group leader, Idris Baluken, Diyarbakır Deputy Nursel Aydogan, Sirnak Deputies Leyla Birlik and Ferhat Encu, Mardin Deputy Gulser Yildirim, and Hakkari Deputies Abdullah Zeydan and Selma Irmak were remanded in custody.

Diyarbakir Deputies Ziya Pir and Imam Tascier, and Ankara Deputy Sirri Sureyya Onder were released under judicial control, while Sirnak Deputy Faysal Sariyildiz and Van Deputy Tugba Hezer Ozturk were said to be abroad.

An arrest warrant for Hakkari Deputy Nihat Akdogan is also out.

Yuksekdag and Demirtas, who vowed in June to not testify before public prosecutors, as well as Onder were earlier Friday referred to a court in Diyarbakir for a judge to assess the prosecution case, a security official said on condition of anonymity.

At a press conference following a parliamentary group meeting in Ankara, HDP spokesman Ayhan Bilgen criticized the arrests, saying they were "illegal" but "political".

The lawmakers face prosecution under anti-terrorism laws after their parliamentary immunity was lifted earlier this year.

Lawmakers from other parties have also been summoned before public prosecutors but only HDP deputies have refused to testify.

Meanwhile, a judicial source said 11 of the 15 HDP deputies had received their summons, but they still refused to show up in court.

Charges

Among the charges the HDP lawmakers face are alleged offenses of spreading terrorist propaganda in relation to comments made in October 2014, after Daesh militants entered the Syrian border town of Kobani, also known as Ayn Al-Arab.

Demirtas and other HDP figures had urged citizens to take to the streets. The ensuing week of violent demonstrations had left dozens of people dead, including two police officers and saw hundreds of people injured. 

The government has accused the HDP of having links to the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and U.S.

Hours after the detention of HDP leaders and deputies, the PKK staged a bomb attack on a police station in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir. Nine people, including two police officers were martyred in the incident.

The blast struck a building used by riot police officers in the central Baglar district at 7.53 a.m. local time (0453GMT), the governor’s office said in a statement.

The area of the attack is heavily populated and civilians, particularly students, would have been in the vicinity, the statement added.

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