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Opposition Turkish MP regains seat after jail

By AFP - Feb 11,2021 - Last updated at Feb 11,2021

ISTANBUL  — A prominent Turkish opposition lawmaker regained his seat in parliament on Thursday after spending part of the past four years in jail on fiercely disputed espionage charges.


Enis Berberoglu of the main opposition CHP Party and two lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish HDP were detained by the police last June after parliament lifted their immunity.


Parliament is controlled by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling alliance and the jailing of the three politicians sparked a political uproar and reinforced concerns about the rule of law in Turkey.


Berberoglu remains the only lawmaker from the CHP -- set up by modern Turkey founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk —  to have been jailed in the crackdown that followed the failed attempt to overthrow Erdogan in July 2016.


He was first sentenced in June 2017 to 25 years in jail -- a term that was later reduced to five years -- for leaking a classified video to the press allegedly showing covert Turkish weapons deliveries to rebels in Syria.


He was reelected to a new term in parliament from jail in June 2018 and released by an appeals court three months later on condition that he remain a member of parliament.


Parliament revoked his membership again last June, leading to his arrest.


He spent another year in jail before being placed under house arrest because of coronavirus regulations.


Berberoglu has protested his innocence throughout and won two Constitutional Court rulings after claiming his human rights had been violated.


Turkish criminal courts ignored the first constitutional court ruling last October but followed up on a second one last month.


Parliament confirmed Berberoglu's return after the justice ministry announced that it was planning to retry the entire case.


Turkish media said Berberoglu has become the first lawmaker to regain his seat after prosecution.


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