Court keeps businessman Kavala in jail despite European court release call

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Drawing: Murat Başol

A Turkish court ruled on Tuesday to keep businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala in jail, despite a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) call for his release, as his trial over his involvement in 2013 protests continues, Reuters reported.

Kavala has been in custody for more than two years, charged with attempting to overthrow the government by organizing and funding nationwide protests against then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Kavala, who faces life in prison if convicted, denies the allegations. Fifteen other defendants are on trial along with Kavala, who is currently the only one in pretrial detention. Their trial was adjourned until Jan. 28.

The European court called for his immediate release two weeks ago, saying there was a lack of reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offense. ECtHR rulings are legally binding, but Turkey has frequently not implemented them.

The Turkish court said it decided to keep Kavala in jail due to the severity of the alleged crimes and was awaiting a response from the Justice Ministry on whether the ECtHR ruling was final.

The indictment cited tapped phone calls in which Kavala discussed sending pastries, milk, juice and gas masks to protesters as evidence that he financed the protests.

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