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Court rules for continuation of Osman Kavala’s detention

Businessman Osman Kavala

An İstanbul court has ruled for a continuation of the detention of prominent businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been kept in jail since 2017 without conviction of any crime, local media reported on Friday.

Sixty-four-year-old civil society leader Kavala is accused of financing 2013 anti-government protests and playing a role in a 2016 coup attempt. If convicted, he could be jailed for life without the possibility of parole.

The İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court on Friday reviewed Kavala’s file and ruled for the continuation of his detention, with one judge expressing a dissenting opinion that he should be released under judicial supervision, according to Turkish media reports.

The next hearing is scheduled for April 22.

Turkey refuses to release Kavala despite a binding judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in December 2019 finding that his detention for allegedly directing and financing the Gezi Park protests of 2013 and for alleged involvement in the failed coup in July 2016 was in pursuance of an “ulterior motive,” that of silencing him as a human rights defender.

The CoE’s Committee of Ministers on Feb. 1 decided to take action against Turkey due to Kavala’s continued imprisonment and ordered that the case be submitted to the ECtHR for review, officially beginning an infringement procedure against Turkey.

Meanwhile, Claudia Roth, German minister of state for culture and the media, on Friday said in a speech during a literature seminar held in the Turkish resort town of Bodrum that his place wasn’t in a prison.

“Hello Osman Kavala, hello my dear friend; we would very much like you to be here today because your place is not in jail. It should’ve been in here today,” she said.

In October 2021 the ambassadors of 10 countries, including the US, Germany and France, demanded Kavala’s immediate release in line with the 2019 ECtHR ruling. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to expel the envoys before backing down.

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