Turkish court delays verdict in coup-related trial of 11 rights activists: report

Activists of the human rights organisation Amnesty International demonstrate for the liberation of Turkish civil rights activist Taner Kilic on February 7, 2018 in front of the Turkish embassy in Berlin. Taner Kilic, the head of Amnesty International in Turkey, has been held since June 2017 in the western Turkish city of Izmir, accused of links to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen who Turkey says ordered a failed coup in July 2016. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Paul Zinken / Germany OUT

A Turkish court has delayed its verdict in the case of 11 rights activists arrested in 2017 on terror charges, BBC reported.

In an unexpected move, the court announced another hearing for April 3.

The activists include Taner Kılıç and İdil Eser, the former head and former director of human rights group Amnesty International in Turkey, respectively.

All are accused of having links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, leader of an outlawed group that Turkey accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

The activists have denied the charges and have since been released on bail but are awaiting a ruling in the case.

In a statement Amnesty said the charges have been “repeatedly and categorically disproven” and called for the immediate acquittal of the activists.

Speaking outside the court ahead of the ruling, Kılıç said he was “optimistic for justice.”

Wednesday’s hearing comes a day after prominent businessman and rights activist Osman Kavala was re-arrested just hours after his acquittal on a new warrant issued over the attempt to oust Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016.

Amnesty said Kavala’s renewed detention “smacks of deliberate and calculated cruelty” while Human Rights Watch Turkey director Emma Sinclair Webb called the new warrant “lawless and vindictive.”

In December, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Kavala had been arbitrarily detained and called for his immediate release.

Authorities in Turkey have arrested tens of thousands of people and fired thousands more teachers and civil servants in a major crackdown since the attempted coup, a move that has been strongly criticized by the country’s Western allies.

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