Turkish opposition leaders condemn release of suspects in armed attack on politician

The leaders of Turkey’s opposition parties have condemned the release from police custody of suspects accused of an armed attack on an opposition politician, T24 news site reported on Saturday.

The release of all five suspects on charges of an attack on opposition Future Party vice chairman Selçuk Özdağ is a move that targets Turkey’s democracy, the leaders said.

Özdağ was hospitalised after being attacked in front of his house in capital Ankara on Jan. 15. Two people were arrested on charges of "wilful injury" on Jan. 19 after video footage of the incident emerged.

On Jan. 21, detention warrants for three other suspects in the case, all of whom are linked to a neo-nationalist group in Ankara affiliated with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the junior coalition partner of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Future Party leader and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the release of the suspects in the case, 20 days after the incident on the request of the prosecutor’s office,was an attack not just on his party, but the country’s democracy.

“I am calling on our nation,starting with political parties and NGOs to stand in solidarity,’’ Davutoğlu said on Twitter.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said Turkey’s current system allowed for “crime to remain unpunished and mafia elements to be emboldened.’’

This is an attack “not only politicians, NGOs and our children, but the whole of Turkey and our democracy,’’ T24 cited the CHP leader as saying.

Centre-right nationalist Good Party (İYİP) leader Meral Akşener labelled the decision as “lawlessness.’’

“The will of the people will surely call (those responsible) into account for this,’’ T24 cited Akşener as saying. 

The leader of the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan said the release of the suspects linked to the attack on Özdağ was an attack on“the social peace of Turkey.’’

“You are spoiling our beautiful country,’’ Babacan added. 

The remarks from the opposition leaders arrive as Turkey, under the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), is accused of losing its judicial independence and targeting human rights defenders by use of administrative and judicial actions.