Former MP Irmak sentenced in controversial case

Former MP Irmak sentenced in controversial case
A+ A-
Claims of ignored immunity and freedom of expression mark the concluding hearing of the lawsuit.

In the final hearing of the lawsuit filed against former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MP Selma Irmak, contentious issues emerged, drawing attention to the broader implications for freedom of expression and legislative immunity in Turkey. The case, rooted in Irmak's 2015 television program statements, was brought before the Diyarbakır 9th Criminal Court of First Instance, addressing the "insulting the President" and "publicly degrading the government" allegations.

Irmak's comments pertained to several contentious incidents, including the public display of Ekin Wan's body, the dragging of Hacı Lokman Birlik's body behind a panzer, the killing of paramedic Abdülaziz Yural and ambulance driver Şeyhmus Dursun, and the destruction of cemeteries in various cities.

While Irmak was absent, her defense was represented by lawyer Raci Bilici, who challenged the prosecution's persistent demand for punishment. Bilici asserted that the court overlooked Irmak's legislative immunity, stating, "Our client was an MP at the time of the alleged crime and possessed legislative immunity, which was unlawfully lifted."

Drawing on the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgments, Bilici emphasized interpreting Irmak's statements within the framework of freedom of expression as aligned with national and international norms. The defense thus called for Irmak's acquittal, highlighting the imperative of safeguarding such fundamental rights.

The court announced its verdict despite these contentions, citing "no further issues to be investigated." Irmak was sentenced to 1 year and three months imprisonment for "publicly insulting the government" and an additional two and 11 months for "insulting the president."