Turkish Court Upholds Opposition Lawmaker’s Prison Sentence
An Istanbul court upheld 25-year prison sentence for a senior lawmaker from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), rejecting an order from an appeals court to retry the politician.
CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoglu was handed a 25-year jail term this summer over charges of espionage and revealing state secrets.
An appeals court ordered Istanbul High Criminal Court to start a retrial of Mr. Berberoglu. In a display of how political realities were bearing upon the country’s judicial system, the lower court rejected the appeals’ court order, saying that the decision was against procedure and law.
The lawmaker’s arrest produced a political storm, igniting a 450 km protest march from Ankara to Istanbul to build public pressure for securing his release. Despite a spirited public display of solidarity and expression of growing social discontent with the government’s emergency rule, the ruling party simply dismissed pleas for the release of Mr. Berberoglu. The momentum built during the march quickly dissipated thereafter without producing a tangible result.
The Turkish government has clamped down on the opposition, civil society, and dissent in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016, unleashing a sweeping purge campaign that saw the sacking of more than 150,000 public workers.