ISTANBUL – The Turkish opposition party MHP will put up as candidate a retired general who is in jail as suspect in the Balyoz case, a coup plot against the government. MHP leader Bahceli announced that, as reported in Turkish news papers on Wednesday.
The ultra-nationalist MHP is not the first to propose coup plot suspects as potential parliamentarians. Opposition party CHP is also supposedly considering suspects for their candidates list, even though the party has so far denied it . They are said to be interested in two journalists, Tuncay Özkan and Mustafa Balbay, who are imprisoned in a jail close to Istanbl. Özkan and Balbay are also considering running as independent candidates.
Being elected as Member of Parliament would mean that the suspects would be released from prison, since MP’s are immune from prosecution according to Turkish law. The former general has only been jailed since the beginning of this month, but both journalists have been on remand now for two years and the call for their release pending their trial is getting louder.
The trials and arrests of suspects for conspiring to topple the government are an ongoing controversy in Turkey. According to the opposition, the governing AKP party misuses the coup plots as an excuse to arrest everybody who is against the government. SomeTurks believe as much, and that makes the most famous and highest placed suspects potentially draw a lot of voters. The AKP denies the allegations and claims that it’s not the government but the judiciary that is responsible for arrests and legal procedures.