ANKARA

The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party on Tuesday criticized the removal of three lawmakers from office last week.

The removal of their deputyship is a putschist move against the nation’s will, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in a speech at his party’s parliamentary group and added: “If you remove their deputyship, then why do the voters go to the polls?”

Three former lawmakers from two opposition parties were sent to prison early last Friday, a day after parliament revoked their seats and legislative immunity.

Enis Berberoglu, was from the CHP, while Leyla Guven and Musa Farisogullari were from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Kilicdaroglu underlined that Berberoglu, Guven and Farisogullari were elected members of parliament by the public in June 2018 but they were removed from office by their fellow lawmakers despite their candidacy had been approved before elections.

“Had the Supreme Election Council examined their [court files]? Yes. Had it approved them? Yes. Had it said they could run? Yes,” Kilicdaroglu said, arguing that revoking their parliament seats was against the constitution.

“It is even against the constitution which contains putschist law,” he said, referring to Turkey’s current constitution that had been written and promulgated in the aftermath of a 1980 military coup.

The final judgements of the judicial proceedings against Berberoglu, Guven and Farisogullari were read out in the parliament last week.

Guven, from the southeastern Hakkari province, was sentenced to six years and three months in prison by a provincial court for “being a member of an armed terror group.”

Farisogullari, from the southeastern Diyarbakir province, received a nine-year sentence, also for “being a member of an armed terror group.”

Berberoglu, an Istanbul lawmaker, was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison for leaking state secrets to a newspaper in June 2017. The sentence was later affirmed by an appeals court.

He was found guilty of leaking footage to a journalist showing National Intelligence Organization (MIT) trucks being stopped en route to Syria in January 2014.

In that incident, gendarmerie officers affiliated with the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) stopped the trucks on their way to Syria despite government orders to let them pass.

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated a defeated coup on July 15, 2016, leaving 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

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