AYM postpones date for HDP’s defense in closure case, lifts blocking of Treasury aid

The Constitutional Court decided to lift the blocking of treasury aid to the HDP by a majority of votes and postponed the date for its defense in the closure case to 11 April.

The Turkish Constitutional Court (AYM) on Thursday postponed the date for the defense of the People's Democratic Party (HDP) in the closure case against the party. Accordingly, HDP will make its defense on the merits on 11 April.

On the other hand, the AYM lifted the blocking of the HDP accounts where the treasury aid is transferred. According to the decision, which was taken by a majority vote, HDP will be receiving aid ahead of the elections scheduled for 14 May. At the beginning of January, the country's highest court made the internationally sharply criticised decision to cut off financial aid to the second largest opposition party for the time being because of accusations of "links to terrorism". As a result, the HDP lost access to 27 million euros, a third of which should have been paid out a few days after the judges' vote.

The HDP had described the exclusion from state party funding as "targeted sabotage" to prevent fair and democratic elections. In response, a fundraising campaign was initiated under the name "Our treasury is our people". The campaign, which started with donations from the HDP parliamentary group, has generated widespread participation.

The Constitutional Court is currently being asked to order the closure of the HDP, a political party with 56 deputies in Turkey’s parliament. An indictment against the party seeks to ban 451 politicians and party members from organized political activity or membership of political parties for a period of five years and forfeiture of the party’s assets. On January 5, the Constitutional Court agreed to a request by the chief prosecutor of the Court of Cassation for an interim measure of freezing the party’s bank accounts containing treasury support which political party groups in parliament are entitled to receive.

During the closure process, the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation can present corroborating evidence to the case file, while the HDP can present additional defence. The HDP has already submitted to the Constitutional Court its defence in response to the accusations and HDP officials will make a verbal defence on a day to be scheduled.

After this process, a Constitutional Court rapporteur, who will collect information and documents related to the case, will prepare a report on the merits of the case. In the meantime, the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation and the HDP will be able to submit corroborating evidence or additional written defence.

After the distribution of the report to members of the Supreme Court, the President of the Constitutional Court, Zühtü Arslan, will set a date for a meeting where the members will come together to discuss the closure request.

A 15-person Constitutional Court committee will make a decision in the closure case against the HDP. A 2/3 majority of the members attending the meeting, i.e. 10 out of 15 members, will decide whether the party will be closed pursuant to the Article 69 of the Constitution or whether the party will be partially or completely deprived of treasury aid depending on the severity of the accusations in question.

The final decision will then be notified to the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation and the HDP and will be published by the Official Gazette. Should the Constitutional Court rule that the party members who are facing a political ban caused the closure of the party through their remarks and actions, these party members will not be able to serve as a founder, member, administrator and supervisor of another party for 5 years, starting from the publication of the final decision in the Official Gazette.