Judges in Turkey have decided on Friday that Osman Kavala, human rights defender and entrepreneur imprisoned since October 2017, should remain in custody, setting the date for the next court session as 17 January 2022. The decision has been taken in an Istanbul court with a majority of the judges’ votes.
Kavala did not attend the court as he had earlier announced on 22 October, after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had called him ‘Soros leftover’, referring to Kavala’s involvement in the Open Society Foundation sponsored by the billionaire investor and financial speculator George Soros.
The Kavala case has turned into a major issue in relations between Turkey and the Council of Europe (CoE) since Turkey had not implemented a judgement by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) who had ruled on December 10 2019 that the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated in the Kavala case and called for Kavala’s immediate release. The ECHR had concluded that Kavala’s arrest was based on political motives, without any reasonable evidence backing the accusations.
The recent court decision came only four days before Turkey’s non-implementation of the ECHR judgement is expected to be discussed once again at the CoE Committee of Ministers meeting on 30 November. After an earlier warning to Turkey by the Committee in mid-September, it is now expected to be referred to the ECHR on the question of whether Turkey has failed to fulfil its obligations of complying with the Court’s judgements. The Court’s reply will likely to begin infringement proceedings by the Committee which may go as far as expelling Turkey from the Council of Europe.
A public announcement was made before today’s court session by the Taksim Solidarity Platform, formed on the verge of the 2013 Gezi protests in Istanbul. Kavala is accused for conspiring to instigate the massive demonstrations that hundreds of thousands of people participated in at the time.
The public announcement was attended by MPs for the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and NGO representatives.
“All segments of the society have been entangled in a web of violence for eight years. We’ll continue to defend freedom and democracy against the darkness,” the platform spokesperson said, and called for the immediate release of Osman Kavala.