Turkey's top court nixes plea to halt removal of lawmakers' immunity

Turkey's Constitutional Court rejected Friday an appeal by opposition lawmakers to cancel a bill passed last month which will lead to the removal of their legal immunity, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

A two-thirds majority in parliament approved the measure last month, allowing the constitutional amendment to pass. It must still be signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Members of the centre-left Republican People's Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) filed petitions to stop the measure, saying it was a violation of the core tenants of the constitution.

The bill was widely seen as targeting the HDP, as more than 50 of their 59 members in the 550-seat house would be affected.

The amendments lifts the immunity of members who have legal dossiers open against them and will relate to more than 130 members in total.

Meral Danis Bestas, an HDP lawmaker, was critical of the court, saying it appeared to have been under political pressure, and said she and her party members planned to wage a legal battle at the European Court of Human Rights.

The Turkish court did not yet publish the reasoning for its decision.

Erdogan himself repeatedly intervened in the lead up to last month's vote, calling the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), of which he is a founding member, to lift the legal immunity of the HDP parliamentarians.

To pass the amendment, the AKP, which has 316 seats, relied on hardline nationalists in parliament to get the needed two-thirds.

Last update: Tue, 12/07/2016 - 17:14
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