Turkey’s Court of Cassation has once again refused to recognise the ruling of the Constitutional Court (AYM) on the detention of a jailed opposition MP, insisting that the AYM’s decision had “no legal value”.
With its decision, published on Wednesday, it is the second time that the Court of Cassation has rejected the claims of rights violations in the detention of Can Atalay, an MP of the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP).
Last week, the AYM issued its second ruling on the case, once again stating that the rights to “election and political activity” and “personal freedom and security” had been violated after Atalay was elected to parliament in May. The AYM had unanimously decided to award Atalay 100,000 TL in moral damages and to suspend the execution of the sentence.
Atalay was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests, which started as a small sit-in by urban activists to defend one of the last parks in the heart of Istanbul, but snowballed into massive anti-government protests that saw some four million people take to the streets in several months of demonstrations.
Several other MPs have been released from pre-trial detention after elections over the years, with the Constitutional Court itself setting a precedent, but Atalay’s appeal for release was rejected by the Court of Cassation, which cited an exception in the constitution for activities that target the ‘indivisible unity of the state’, which is how government officials referred to the Gezi Park protests.
According to the Constitutional Court’s ruling, Atalay is entitled to a retrial. As stated by the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, the rulings of the Constitutional Court are final, and legislative, executive and administrative branches are obliged to comply with the Court’s rulings without modification or delay.