Turkish court docket rules to maintain Osman Kavala in jail

Istanbul, Turkey – A court docket in Istanbul has ordered the continued detention of philanthropist Osman Kavala, in a move that would additional pressure Turkey’s ties with Europe.

The listening to was the primary since a dispute over the case that introduced Turkey to the brink of a diplomatic disaster with a number of Western allies final month, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to expel the ambassadors of 10 nations after they urged for Kavala to be launched.

Rights teams have criticised the detention and trial of Kavala, 64, as absurd and politically motivated. The Turkish authorities has rejected the criticism and mentioned Turkey’s judiciary is impartial.

Friday’s court docket ruling might jeopardise Turkey’s membership within the Council of Europe, which has known as for Kavala’s launch according to a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The Istanbul court docket set the following listening to for January 17, 2022.

Turkey is a member of the 47-nation Council of Europe and is certain by its personal nationwide structure to comply with rulings by the ECHR. But Ankara has ignored a number of of the ECHR’s orders, together with these referring to the discharge of Kavala in addition to jailed pro-Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas.

Turkey dangers infringement procedures

The Committee of Ministers, which oversees the implementation of the ECHR’s judgements, is because of meet November 30 to December 2 in Strasbourg.

Andrew Cutting, a spokesperson for the Council of Europe, advised Al Jazeera the committee’s selections are anticipated to be revealed on December 3.

Cutting mentioned the Committee of Ministers would first should resolve, by a two-thirds majority, to place Turkey on formal discover that they intend to launch infringement proceedings, after which want a further two-thirds majority vote to formally ship the case again to the ECHR to ask whether or not Turkey had violated the Council of Europe’s human rights conference by failing to implement the court docket’s ruling.

Ayse Bugra, spouse of philanthropist Osman Kavala, talks to the media in entrance of the court docket after a listening to of Kavala and 15 others over their function in nationwide protests in 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey, November 26, 2021 [Umit Bektas/Reuters]

At that time, Turkey might develop into the second nation, after Azerbaijan, to ever face infringement proceedings within the Council of Europe.

Nacho Sánchez Amor, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Turkey, who has attended earlier hearings, advised Al Jazeera the court docket ruling to maintain Kavala in detention undermines latest efforts to fix ties between the European Union and Turkey.

“This today has been the last opportunity of the Turkish state to comply with its obligations under the charter of the Council of Europe, and I am disappointed because I would prefer the infringement procedure could be avoided,” he mentioned.

“But apparently at this very moment, after [seeing] again this challenge to the Council of Europe’s ECHR ruling, we expect a solution coming from the Committee of Ministers to open infringement procedures.”

Strained ties

The diplomatic dispute between Turkey and several other Western nations erupted final month when 10 ambassadors to Turkey launched a press release calling for Kavala’s instant launch.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned the ambassadors have been overstepping diplomatic norms and ordered their expulsion however later walked again the menace.

The dispute was resolved after a rigorously worded assertion from the Western embassies mentioned they’d proceed to work in accordance with practices specified by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The 10 nations – the US, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Finland – characterize Turkey’s NATO allies and a few of its largest commerce companions.

Erdogan termed the dispute as a win for his insistence the nations not intervene in Turkey’s judicial course of, and advised supporters the embassies “will be more careful now”.

Rights teams reject ruling

Rights teams have additionally known as on the Committee to take motion towards Turkey over the Kavala case.

“Osman Kavala’s detention is unlawfully prolonged again by unanimous vote of the court,” Emma Sinclair-Webb of Human Rights Watch wrote on Twitter on Friday, calling for the Committee of Ministers to pursue infringement proceedings towards Turkey.

“[Turkey’s] refusal to implement a binding judgement of the ECHR is not only an unconscionable violation of Osman Kavala’s right to liberty, but also a threat to the European human rights system as a whole,” Nils Muiz, Europe Regional Director at Amnesty International, wrote on Twitter.

“It’s up to the member states in the Council of Europe to react to this challenge and initiate infringement proceedings.”

‘No new evidence’

Kavala, 64, is well-known in Turkey for his work with civil society teams, together with with the Open Society Foundation, whose Turkish chapter he based. He was first arrested greater than 4 years in the past and charged in 2019 with being a part of a conspiracy behind the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Istanbul. He was acquitted by a Turkish court docket in February 2020.

But the philanthropist was by no means launched, and hours after the acquittal, prosecutors introduced new expenses saying he was a part of a separate conspiracy referring to a failed 2016 coup try.

His case was later merged with that of 51 different folks being charged in relation to the 2013 Gezi protests, accused of a variety of crimes together with espionage, membership in “terror” teams, and attempting to violently overthrow the federal government. If convicted, Kavala might face life in jail.

Kavala has denied the fees, saying the accusations are of a “fantastic nature” and never based mostly on any proof. He has refused to participate in additional hearings, and on Friday he didn’t be a part of the court docket through a video conferencing system related to the Silivri Prison simply exterior Istanbul the place he’s stored.

Lawyers, opposition legislators and supporters collect in entrance of the Justice Palace, the Caglayan Courthouse, as a Turkish court docket holds a listening to of philanthropist Osman Kavala and 15 others [Umit Bektas/Reuters]

Kavala’s defence attorneys, in a press release, mentioned the court docket’s rationale for maintaining him in detention was based mostly on allegations that weren’t substantial sufficient to be talked about within the prosecution’s case.

Kavala is accused of being in a conspiracy for the 2016 coup try with Henry Barkey, an American educational who’s being tried in the identical case in absentia and denies the fees, an allegation based mostly on mobile phone data exhibiting the 2 have been in shut proximity. Defence attorneys identified the information doesn’t present the 2 ever had any telephone conversations, some extent Barkey has made as nicely.

The court docket has additionally cited allegations Kavala funded the 2013 Gezi protests, which started as a rally by 1000’s of individuals towards a deliberate redevelopment undertaking in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, then escalated into bigger anti-government protests.

Kavala’s defence attorneys mentioned a report cited by the court docket from Turkey’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board doesn’t conclude there was any proof of cash being despatched to the Gezi Park protesters.

“The stage of the trial shows that no new evidence is presented for someone who has been detained for 4 years with the same accusations and allegations, and that the evidence put forward by the indictment is not even of a quality to raise a simple suspicion,” the attorneys mentioned in a press release.

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