Turkish lower court tells appeal court not to free opposition MP

“For the first time in the history of the republic, a lower court has nullified the judgment of a higher court,” Alican Uludağ and Canan Coşkun wrote in Cumhuriyet newspaper following a court ruling on Tuesday.

The Istanbul Criminal Court said the decision by a court of appeal to cancel the 25-year sentence against opposition member of parliament Enis Berberoğlu for espionage “was clearly in contradiction to procedure and law”, and sent the case back.

“This is clearly against the law,” Cumhuriyet quoted the opposition Republic People’s Party (CHP) spokesman Bülent Tezcan as saying. “It is clearly written in the 284th clause of the Criminal Trial Law that (lower courts) ‘cannot oppose the court of appeals’.”

“The court of appeals should immediately release Enis Berberoğlu,” he said.

Berberoğlu was charged with having leaked to the media images of trucks full of weaponry – apparently sent by Turkey’s intelligence service MİT – being stopped by gendarmes on their way to rebel groups in Syria.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu carried out a “justice march” from the capital Ankara to Istanbul in the immediate wake of Berberoğlu’s sentencing in June.

Ankara Bar President Hakan Canduran said he was also worried by the verdict.

“This is a dangerous situation,” he said. “It could cause chaos in the judiciary.”