Appeals court overturns verdict acquitting Kavala, others in Gezi Park trial

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A regional court of appeals in İstanbul has overturned the decision of a high criminal court that acquitted leading businessman and rights defender Osman Kavala and eight others of charges of instigating the anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013, Turkish media reported on Thursday.

The case must be sent to a first degree court for retrial, the İstanbul Regional Court’s 3rd Criminal Chamber ruled on Thursday.

The İstanbul 30th High Criminal Court in February 2020 acquitted Kavala, Mücella Yapıcı, Yiğit Aksakoğlu, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Çiğdem Mater, Mine Özerden, Hakan Altınay and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi of charges linked to the 2013 protests, saying there was “not enough concrete evidence” against them.

They were accused of seeking to overthrow the government by orchestrating the mass protests that rocked the country in 2013.

The demonstrations began over plans to demolish Gezi Park, one of the only green spaces in İstanbul’s center, but quickly spiraled into broader protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was the country’s prime minister in 2013.

In November 2020 Erdoğan called Kavala “the sponsor of the Gezi Park protests” in a speech, despite the courts clearing him of the accusation.

After his acquittal in mid-February, Kavala, who had been behind bars since October 18, 2017, was rearrested the same day on charges related to a 2016 abortive putsch in Turkey. It was a move described by his lawyers as a tactic to circumvent a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling which said in late 2019 that the long pretrial detention of Kavala was a violation of his rights.

The 63-year-old activist is currently standing trial on charges that include “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” and “obtaining confidential information of the state for political or military espionage.”

The next hearing of his trial will be held on Feb. 5.

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