The Constitution and Justice Committees at Turkey’s parliament voted in favour of lifting the parliamentary immunity of Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Co-chair Salihe Aydeniz on Wednesday.
Two opposition MPs on the committee from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) voted against the motion, however, they lost to the three votes of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) MPs.
The prepared report by the sub-commission will be presented back to the committees, and if the mixed committees reach a similar conclusion, the motion will arrive at the Turkish parliament to be voted on.
Aydeniz had been involved in an altercation with a police officer during an incident on a demonstration on 12 June against the prison conditions of Abdullah Öcalan.
The controversial Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu accused the DBP leader of punching a police officer on the same day. While the footage the minister shared showed Aydeniz making brief contact with an officer during a scuffle, it also showed several officers pushing and shoving the MP afterwards. Soylu was quick to call Aydeniz a “terrorist” and he called for her prosecution.
The officer Soylu pointed to had not sought an injury report until the minister published the tweet, HDP deputy Meral Danış Beştaş said during her statement in favour of Aydeniz on Tuesday.
Aydeniz on the other hand was issued medical reports due to police brutality and had pressed charges against the officers in question, Beştaş said, adding that the proceedings to lift her immunity was “purely political”.
“It is not the law enforcement officers that are the victims here,” Beştaş said.
Following the vote, AKP’s Ali Özkaya said Aydeniz was the MP with the highest number of cases demanding the lifting of her immunity so the courts can launch investigations.
If her immunity is lifted, Aydeniz stands to face trial in at least 77 cases, most of them charging her with terrorist propaganda over speeches made as part of her duties as an MP and struggling against the police in demonstrations similar to the one in question.
Currently, the proceedings continue with five cases, four of which Aydeniz defended herself, with Beştaş making the fifth defence. Beştaş was at the scene during the incident, and is a human rights lawyer.
The next stage will be the presentation of the report on Aydeniz on 18 July. Within one month after that, the commission will have to make a decision.
There are at least 1,308 cases of proceedings against HDP and DBP MPs where they are charged with terrorist propaganda, resisting police, unlawful protest and similar crimes over their political activity as part of their positions as MPs.
The HDP itself is also facing a closure case, where if the Constitutional Court rules to shut the party down, 451 of the party’s top officials will face a ban from engaging in politics.