Turkish court keeps Kavala in prison, verdict expected next month

Turkish court keeps Kavala in prison, verdict expected next month

A Turkish court ruled on Monday that philanthropist Osman Kavala should stay in prison for at least another month as lawyers prepare their final statements in a trial which has caused tensions between Ankara and its Western allies.

Opposition and rights activists have said the trial is politically motivated and part of a crackdown on dissent under President Tayyip Erdogan. The government rejects this and says Turkey’s courts are independent.

The court had been widely expected to reach a verdict on Monday, but defence lawyers requested more time to respond to the prosecutor’s final opinion on the case and the judge set a date of April 22 for what was likely to be the final hearing.

Kavala, a businessman and contributor to numerous civil society groups, was initially detained more than four years ago on October 18, 2017.

Charges against him are related to nationwide protests in 2013 as well as a coup attempt in 2016. He denies any wrongdoing.

Last month the Council of Europe referred Kavala’s case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to determine whether Turkey has failed to meet its obligation to implement a previous ECHR judgment, more than two years ago, that he should be released immediately.

Erdogan subsequently said he would not respect the Council of Europe if it did not respect Turkish courts.

Last October, Erdogan threatened to expel the ambassadors of 10 countries, including the United States, Germany and France, after they echoed the ECHR ruling.

Kavala was acquitted in 2020 of charges related to nationwide protests in 2013, but hours later another court ordered his arrest based on a charge of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order related to a 2016 coup attempt.

That court later ruled to release him on that charge but ordered his detention on an espionage charge in the same case, a move critics said was aimed at circumventing the ECHR ruling. [Reuters]

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