Contrary to what the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) said in a judgment last month, Turkey’s justice minister, Bekir Bozdağ, has argued that Turkish courts complied with and implemented a binding judgment of the court in December 2019, which found that businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala’s detention violated his fundamental rights, local media reported on Wednesday.
Citing criticism that Turkey failed to comply with the 2019 judgement regarding the Kavala case, Bozdağ on Wednesday argued the opposite during a speech at the 13th Ambassadors Conference in Ankara.
“The Turkish court complied with and implemented the ECtHR’s decision of violation of rights regarding Osman Kavala,” the minister said, adding, however, that the philanthropist was arrested for another crime.
“… his trial continued and he is now in prison,” Bozdağ said.
In response to a question by the Committee of Ministers as to whether Turkey had complied with the court’s ruling, the Strasbourg court said last month that the country did not, failing to fulfill its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Turkey has refused to release Kavala despite the 2019 ECtHR ruling that found his detention was in pursuance of an “ulterior motive,” that of silencing him as a human rights defender. The non-implementation of the ruling prompted the Council of Europe (CoE) Committee of Ministers to launch an infringement procedure against Turkey in February, which is still ongoing.
The ECtHR ruled that Turkey rearresting Kavala on the same day a court ordered his release in 2020 was not based on new evidence, as required by a lawful rearrest, but had been “based on facts that were similar, or even identical, to those that the Court had already examined in the Kavala judgment.”
The ECtHR said in a press release on the judgment that it concluded Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) did not act in “good faith”
The Strasbourg court also held that Turkey was to pay Kavala 7,500 euros in costs and expenses.
Kavala, who had been behind bars since October 18, 2017, was acquitted of charges of attempting to overthrow the state through involvement in the 2013 nationwide Gezi Park protests in February 2020.
He was rearrested the same day on charges related to a 2016 abortive putsch in Turkey in a move described by his lawyers as a tactic to circumvent the court’s 2019 ruling to free him.
An İstanbul court on April 25 sentenced Kavala to aggravated life and his co-defendants to 18 years each on charges of instigating the anti-government Gezi Park protests in 2013, sparking protests from governments around the world, including the United States, Germany and France, and NGOs such as Amnesty International.