The Turkish Court of Cassation took legal action against members of the Constitutional Court (AYM) on Wednesday, overturning an AYM ruling regarding the detention of a jailed opposition MP.
Last week, the AYM declared the continued detention of Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) MP Can Atalay a violation of his personal freedom and the electoral rights of his constituents. Atalay had appealed to the AYM for release, and for a suspension of the trial, after his election in May on the basis of parliamentary immunity.
The local court, that was expected to release Atalay, referred the case to the Court of Cassation on the grounds that it had the authority to rule on the matter.
However, the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation refused to comply with the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the violation of the law. It reaffirmed the correctness of the previous ruling, which upheld Atalay’s conviction.
The Court of Cassation decided to file a criminal complaint against the members of the Constitutional Court who issued the violation verdict in Atalay’s case, saying that the Constitutional Court had “violated the Constitution and exceeded its authority”.
Atalay was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests. The sentence, which was upheld by the Court of Appeals, was not referred to the competent chamber of the Court of Cassation. As a result, Atalay’s sentence is not final yet.
Although the Constitutional Court set a precedent by releasing MPs from pre-trial detention after the elections, Atalay’s appeal for release was previously rejected by the Court of Cassation, citing an exception in the constitution for activities that target the ‘indivisible unity of the state’, which is how government officials addressed the Gezi Park protests.
The Gezi protests, which began as a small sit-in to defend a park in Istanbul, escalated into massive anti-government demonstrations and civil unrest.
According to the Constitutional Court’s ruling, Atalay is entitled to a retrial.