Turkish lawmakers, few holding up boards that read in Turkish:...

Turkish lawmakers, few holding up boards that read in Turkish: "Freedom for Can Atalay" argue with Parliament Deputy speaker Bekir Bozdag, top center, during a session at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. The Turkish Parliament stripped an imprisoned opposition lawmaker Can Atalay of his parliamentary status on Tuesday, defying a ruling made by the country's top court in September. Other boards read in Turkish: "Can Atalay. It's the will of the people". Credit: AP/Mert Gokhan Koc

ISTANBUL — The Turkish Parliament stripped an imprisoned opposition lawmaker of his parliamentary status on Tuesday, defying a ruling made by the country’s top court in September.

After months of legal and political turmoil that saw two of the highest courts in Turkey clash, the decision by the Court of Appeals to unseat Can Atalay, a lawyer and human rights activist who was elected to the parliament in May while in prison, was read in the Turkish parliament.

The Constitutional Court had ruled for Atalay’s release, saying his freedoms and rights to hold office were being violated.

In November, the court of appeals took the unprecedented step of filing a criminal complaint against Constitutional Court justices who ruled for the politician’s release, accusing them of violating the constitution. It said it would instruct parliament to begin the process of unseating Atalay.

As the court's decision was read in parliament by Deputy Speaker Bekir Bozdag, opposition lawmakers rushed to the podium.

Some booed and held up signs reading “Freedom to Can Atalay”, while one threw a copy of the Turkish constitution at Bozdag.

Erkan Bas, chair of the left-wing Worker’s Party of Turkey, the party that Atalay represented, called the move “not only irregular but also illegal.”

Turkish lawmakers, few holding up boards that read in Turkish:...

Turkish lawmakers, few holding up boards that read in Turkish: "Freedom for Can Atalay", argue during a session at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. The Turkish Parliament stripped an imprisoned opposition lawmaker Can Atalay of his parliamentary status on Tuesday, defying a ruling made by the country's top court in September. Credit: AP/Mert Gokhan Koc

"We are watching the completion of a coup attempt that trampled on the Constitution,” Bas said.

Atalay was convicted last year, along with seven other defendants, of attempting to overthrow the government for organizing nationwide protests in 2013. He rejected the accusation but was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

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