Turkey’s Constitutional Court has accepted an indictment drawn up by Supreme Court Chief State Prosecutor Bekir Şahin demanding the closure of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). It is expected that the HDP will submit a preliminary defence within the period granted by the court.
The Constitutional Court met for the first examination of the indictment in question at 10.00 this morning. The Court reached a decision quickly, accepting the indictment calling for closure of the HDP, but rejected the demand for seizure of its property.
The indictment had been sent to the Constitutional Court on 7 June.
Chief Prosecutor Şahin, who prepared the indictment, stated that it consisted of 843 pages and demanded that 451 individuals be banned from political activity. The Constitutional Court Rapporteur communicated the Court’s opinion that the indictment should be accepted. This morning, the Constitutional General Assembly ratified the decision relating to the indictment.
Following the decision of the Constitutional Court, the indictment will be sent to the HDP for it to prepare a preliminary defence. The HDP must submit its preliminary defence within the time allotted by the Court. The HDP has the right to apply for an extension, but any extension will be dependent on the decision of the Court.
After the party has submitted its preliminary defence, Chief Prosecutor Şahin will present his opinion on the case. This opinion will also be sent to the HDP and on dates to be specified by the Court, Şahin will present his explanation verbally, and the officials of the HDP will present their cases verbally.
The decision in the closure case will be made by a 15-member bench of the Constitutional Court. This decision can be passed with a 2/3 majority, so 10 of the 15 members must be of one voice to make the decision. The decision of the Constitutional Court is conclusive and binding. The only mechanism to which the HDP can apply, in the face of a decision of the Constitutional Court, is the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which cannot stop proceedings, but can decide that there has been a violation of the Convention.
The Supreme Court Chief State Prosecution responded on 2 March to MHP (National Movement Party) leader Devlet Bahçeli’s long-standing and repeated calls for the closure of the HDP. The Political Parties Office of the Supreme Court Chief State Prosecution wrote a letter to Ankara’s Chief State Prosecution requesting a copy of the Kobanê indictment and its appendices, which calls for life imprisonment for 108 defendants (the whole of the HDP executive), including former co-chairs of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.
The Office also requested copies of the summaries of proceedings for nine HDP MPs, including HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan, also within the scope of the Kobanê inquiry.
Although sources at the Chief State Prosecution insist that the activities of all political parties are followed and that the documents were requested as part of a routine examination, Chief Prosecutor Şahin initiated the HDP closure case on 17 March.
As well as the demand for closure, Chief Prosecutor Şahin also requested that 687 people, including existing and former co-chairs of the HDP, be banned from political activitiy for five years. The prosecutor also attached to the indictment cases initiated against these politicians, indictments drawn up against them, penalties assigned to them and statements that they made to the press, in chronological order.
In particular, the statements of Selahattin Demirtaş, Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar made in social media and during activities relating to the ‘Solution process’ took up a large part of the indictment. The prosecution was citing these tweets and statements as evidence of a link between the HDP and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
With the remark that “statements made by party members on trial following the Kobani incidents, the Hendek incidents and the Gara operation; declarations of families holding a vigil outside the Diyarbakır Branch of the Party on trial and statements repeated in the presence of the court by defendants on trial for the offence of ‘membership of an armed terrorist organisation’, that they had participated in the armed terrorist organisation PKK-KCK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party – Kurdistan Communities’ Union) through its HDP organisation, will also be included”, it has been indicated that the indictment relating to the Kobanê protests against 108 people, 28 of whom are remanded in custody (including party members), was to be included in the HDP closure file.
On 19 March, the Constitutional Court appointed a rapporteur in the HDP closure case. In the report prepared by the rapporteur on 30 March, s/he demanded either the return of the indictment in order that some procedural errors be corrected or for it to be accepted and the errors made up during the process.
When the Constitutional General Assembly convened on 31 March, the first examination of the closure case against the HDP was completed. The Court identified the procedural errors and unanimously decided to return the indictment to the prosecution.
The Constitutional Court stated in its grounds that the actions relating to the charge that “party members had become a focal point for actions in contravention of the indivisible unity of the nation and the state” within the scope of “becoming a focal point,” as laid out in articles 68 and 69 of the Constitution, had not been dealt with sufficiently.
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli issued a written statement following the Constitutional Court decision, leading the attack with the words: “The decision of the Constitutional Court carries no weight with the national conscience: Turkey’s right to exist is not just a point of procedure, there is far worse damage done to the principle.”
Chief Prosecutor Şahin announced that they had drawn up the indictment afresh on 1 June.