The change approved in the parliamentary Justice Commission would give prisoners one-day leave to visit relatives whose medical condition is critical, but specifically aims to allow Mehmet Haberal, a CHP deputy who is currently in jail as a suspect in the Ergenekon trial to visit his ill mother.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) added a last-minute article to the bill to exempt jailed terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan from this right, which will not be extended to those convicted of charges related to terrorism.
Captured in Kenya on Feb. 15, 1999, he has been serving a life sentence on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara.
The Ministry of Justice has been trying to work out a way to allow Haberal to visit his mother since CHP leader Deniz Baykal visited Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last month and requested the government make the necessary legislative changes that would enable Haberal to visit his mother. Erdoğan responded positively to Baykal's request and notified Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin following the meeting.
Haberal was arrested in 2009 on charges of membership in a clandestine terrorist network known as Ergenekon. He was elected as a deputy for the CHP in the June 12 general elections. However, he was not released from prison by the court, contrary to the CHP's expectations.