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Turkey’s top judicial body demands names of judges, prosecutors who unlawfully arrested Kavala

The Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) building is seen.

The Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK), Turkey’s top judicial body, has demanded the names of judges and prosecutors involved in court decisions to arrest prominent businessman and rights activist Osman Kavala, Turkish media reported on Friday.

The HSK, which is responsible for the appointment, promotion, transfer, discipline and dismissal of judges and prosecutors, on Wednesday wrote to the İstanbul Justice Commission for the information as they deliberate which judicial personnel to promote.

The names of judges and prosecutors sought in the letter also included those involved in rulings that failed to honor a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decision calling for Kavala’s immediate release in December 2019.

Despite the ECtHR decision holding that Kavala was arrested in the absence of any reasonable suspicion and that Turkey’s Constitutional Court did not examine his application within a reasonable period of time, local courts continued to keep him in jail.

Kavala and eight other defendants were acquitted in mid-February of charges of attempting to overthrow the state through their involvement in the 2013 nationwide Gezi Park protests, with the judge saying there was “not enough concrete evidence” against the defendants after Kavala had spent more than two years in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison.

However, his detention since November 2017 did not end there, and he was rearrested on charges related to an attempted coup that took place on July 15, 2016, a move described by Kavala’s lawyers as a tactic to circumvent the ECtHR ruling.

An İstanbul prosecutor in October demanded an aggravated life sentence for Kavala as part of an investigation launched in March accusing him of “political espionage” in addition to “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.”

Commenting on the development on Twitter, Turkish lawyer Aslı Kazan said: “Osman Kavala was arrested unlawfully. The HSK will take this fact into consideration while deciding which judges to promote. So why is Osman Kavala still behind bars?”

Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, a research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, hinted at the effect of Joe Biden, the president-elected of the United States, in the HSK’s latest move.

“Good news on civil society leader Osman Kavala case. Min of Justice writes to Istanbul Justice Commission demanding names of judges who failed to honor the European Court of Human Rights decision for Kavala’s release. No doubt #JoeBiden butterfly effect,” she said in a tweet.

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