Deputies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) unanimously rejected to debate in parliament a draft bill related to the abolishment of the statute of limitations regarding the Sivas massacre.
The "Law Proposal about Amendments of the Turkish Criminal Law" (No. 141) was submitted by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Ankara MP Emine Ülker Tarhan. It is currently pending in the commission. It was expected to be discussed in parliament on Tuesday (6 March).
Tanrıkulu said in an interview with bianet that AKP deputies voted against the related debate. "How are the deputies who raised their hands today to obstruct the debate on the proposal going to explain this to the public conscience?" he questioned.
The law proposal was submitted to the Parliamentary Presidency on 8 December 2011. It envisions the abolishment of the statute of limitations for crimes of "violation of the right to life", "torture" and "sexual abuse of children".
Assembly President Cemil Çiçek announced in a statement made on Tuesday that the draft bill had been forwarded to the Human Rights Research Commission and the Justice Commission on 20 December.
Tanrıkulu pointed out that the proposal might remain in the commissions for a long period of time whereas the Sivas trial was in danger to be closed by prescription in the meantime. Therefore, he applied to have a preliminary debate about the proposal in parliament on Tuesday.
According to Article 37 of the Procedures of Parliament, a preliminary debate on a proposal pending in the commission can be requested.
"I made use of that right because if no initiative is being taken for the debate there is the danger that it will not be debated until the end of term and eventually will be shelved", Tanrıkulu explained.
"Our request was dismissed with the votes of the AKP deputies. Çiçek could have had the draft bill debated with priority in the advisory board of the assembly but he refrained from doing so", Tanrıkulu criticized.
"The proposal could have been debated today which would have sped up procedures and the draft could have been passed into law. This way, the law could have been applied to the Sivas trial as well and would have stopped it from becoming time-barred".
Tanrıkulu announced to reiterate his application. "After that, it depends on the will of the AKP deputies", he added.
"In the scope of crimes against humanity"
The Sivas massacre in central Anatolia was an attack against Alevi intellectuals and artists. 35 people burned to death and two assailants died when the Madimak Hotel in Sivas was set on fire on 2 July 1993. The last trial about the Sivas massacre might be closed by prescription on 13 March.
Six of the defendants on trial are still fugitive.
Plaintiff lawyer Şenal Sarıhan had previously told bianet that the defendants were litigated under Aritcle 146/3 of the Turkish Criminal Law (Subversion). Even though they might benefit from the statute of limitation according to domestic law, international law had to be considered since the offences laid in within the scope of "crimes against humanity".
Sarıhan reminded the fact that the six fugitive defendants got married in the meantime, had children and registered them at school. He added that it was incomprehensible that these people had not been arrested until today. (AS)