Istanbul court extended prison sentence for Turkish businessman on Friday Civilian activist Osman Kavala jailed without verdictHe has been entitled to it for four years despite European threats of sanctions against Ankara.
The regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses the 64-year-old dissident and leading civil society figure of seeking to destabilize Turkey.
He was specifically targeted because In 2013, he supported the anti-government protests known as the Gezi movement. It spread to Erdogan when he was prime minister.
A sit-in in front of the courthouse last May on Kavala’s new trial
He was later accused of attempting to “overthrow the government” in the failed 2016 coup attempt. Kavala has consistently denied the charges.
He will appear again on November 26 before the court, which found that he lacked “new elements” to order his release, demanded by his lawyers and human rights organizations.
Amnesty International condemned Kavala’s “cruel punishment” and the “torture of him and his family” as a “day of shame” for Turkey.
After being acquitted for the first time in February 2020 of Gezi-related charges, Kavala was remanded in custody for “supporting” the attempted coup against Erdogan. At the time, he denounced a strategy aimed at prolonging his detention.
In the courtroom, which was filled with a large presence including many American and European diplomats, Osman Kavala appeared today on a live screen from Silivri Prison, west of Istanbul, where he has been detained since October 2017.
Among the audience was his wife, Aisha Bougherra, professor of political economy at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. “I don’t feel like I’m out of a trial,” she told reporters as she left the court.
Aicha Bougherra (archives)
For her part, Melina Bayoum of Amnesty International told AFP that “the decision to keep Osman Kavala behind bars had no justification or legal basis” from the start, stressing that he “never been convicted of no crime “.
In a statement released by his lawyers at the hearing, Kavala said “what is most striking is not just that the charges (against him) are not based on any evidence. These are fictitious charges and they are part of conspiracy theories which are difficult to understand. “
He said the charge of “espionage” was added to the list of charges in May 2020, deeming the charges to be “defamation”. “Extending my detention on such a fragile basis is tantamount to extrajudicial execution,” he added.
“It’s a way to get around the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights”, which demanded his release in December 2019.
like The Council of Europe recently threatened Ankara with sanctions It can be adopted at its next session (November 30 to December 2), if the exhibits have not been released by then.
In this case, Turkey would be the second country to be subject to a “violation measure”, as so far only Russia has been suspended from the council under this measure from 2017 to 2019.
In the event that it has been decided during the November 16 session to release Kavala, who will enter his fifth year in prison on October 18, this sentence cannot be imposed on Ankara.
On Friday, the United States, the European Union, Germany, France, Denmark, Great Britain, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden sent representatives to the tribunal to express their interest in this trial. Several Turkish opposition MPs also attended the session.
In contrast, US academic Henry Barkey, who was present in Istanbul at the time of the failed 2016 coup, was absent and was accused by the Turkish government of being a CIA agent involved in the organization of this attempt, because of its presence. in the USA.