Prominent philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala, who has been behind bars on politically motivated charges since 2017, has said he will no longer attend court hearings or make defense statements because he has been left with no hope of being given a fair trial.
Kavala, 64, who has been in jail without a conviction, released a written statement on Friday through his lawyers about the latest controversy over his imprisonment.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government were outraged by a call from the ambassadors of 10 countries in Turkey who in a statement on Monday called for Kavala’s release from prison. Erdoğan even threatened to expel the ambassadors and accused them of intervening in a judicial process while labelling Kavala as a “Soros leftover.”
Erdoğan was comparing Kavala to Hungarian-born US financier George Soros, whose promotion of democracy has upset eastern and central European leaders.
“Those who defend this Soros leftover are working on ways on how to free him,” Erdoğan said.
“Do you free bandits, murderers and terrorists in your countries?” Erdoğan asked the ambassadors.
“The president’s insulting and defaming remarks about someone whose trial is still ongoing and who has not been convicted are an attack on human dignity. These are messages that aim to present me as guilty and directly influence the judiciary. Since a fair trial is no longer possible under these circumstances, I believe attending the court hearings and defending myself will be meaningless from now on,” Kavala said in his statement.
Kavala has faced a series of shifting charges linked to 2013 anti-government protests and a failed military coup in 2016.
In their statement the US, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden called for a “just and speedy resolution to (Kavala)’s case.”
The 10 envoys were summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry on Tuesday.
The Council of Europe has issued a final warning to Turkey to comply with a 2019 European Court of Human Rights order to release Kavala pending trial.
If Turkey fails to do so by its next meeting on November 30-December 2, the council could vote to launch its first disciplinary proceedings against Ankara.
The proceedings could result in the suspension of Turkey’s voting rights and even its membership.