Nacho Sanchez Amor, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, has slammed the upholding of the convictions of five defendants in the Gezi Park trial, describing as a complete “disaster” the country’s failure to comply with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) regarding prominent businessman and civil society leader Osman Kavala, Euronews reported.
In a move that led to widespread condemnation, Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld the convictions of five defendants including Kavala in the Gezi Park trial and overturned the convictions of three others.
Kavala had been given a life sentence in April 2022, while the remaining seven co-defendants were each given a prison sentence of 18 years on charges related to the anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013.
They were convicted of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government for their alleged role in the protests, which began over an urban development plan in central Istanbul and spread to other cities in Turkey.
In February 2022 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE), the executive organ of the CoE, decided to take action against Turkey for failing to release Kavala in line with an ECtHR ruling and ordered that the case be submitted to the ECtHR for review, officially beginning an infringement procedure against Turkey.
Amor said Turkey’s failure to comply with the ECtHR ruling on Kavala is not a political decision but a judicial one and that all member countries of the CoE are expected to comply with the rulings of the Strasbourg-based court.
The CoE in December 2021 ruled to notify Turkey of its intention to launch infringement proceedings against the country for refusing to free Kavala, triggering a procedure used only once before in the organization’s history.
However, a Turkish court in January 2023 extended Kavala’s detention, ignoring a deadline from the CoE to release him.
Amor also made a statement on his X social media account about Thursday’s court decision concerning the Gezi trial defendants, saying,” It’s in this kind of things where we should test Türkiye’s real will to reactivate the EU accession process. Good-will statements are empty talk if not accompanied by real actions. Sadly, the actions keep undermining Türkiye’s EU prospects. This is a big step further away from EU.”
In a recent report the EU Parliament report sharply criticized Turkey’s record on democracy, human rights and the rule of law, citing problems such as media suppression, judicial manipulation and discrimination against minority groups, attracting an angry reaction from the Turkish foreign ministry and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey and the EU began membership talks in 2005, but the process has been at a standstill in recent years.