The Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee of Ministers has decided to launch infringement proceedings against Turkey over the country's insistence to keep philanthropist Osman Kavala behind bars, Euronews' Turkish service reported on Dec. 2.
The official decision will be published on Dec. 3. A the end of the proceedings, Turkey's membership or voting rights at the CoE could be suspended.
The Committee of Ministers took the decision during its quarterly meeting which took place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. The Committee oversees the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)'s decisions.
Among the cases that was reviewed during the meeting was that of Kavala, who remains in prison in Turkey after four years without conviction in a case.
An Istanbul court on Nov. 26 once again ruled to keep Kavala behind bars while his trial continues.
The Committee of Ministers had given its final warning to Turkey about the Kavala case in September, saying that it would launch infringement proceedings against the country if the philanthropist is not released by the end of November.
It has repeatedly called on Turkey to release Kavala in line with the ECHR's ruling which said in 2019 that the philanthropist's detention was political. Turkey has however refused to abide by the court's decision.
Kavala was jailed on Nov. 1, 2017, on charges of helping to organize the 2013 Gezi protests in Istanbul. Turkish courts ruled to acquit him and his co-defendants of these charges in February 2020, but he was immediately re-arrested and detained on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” and “espionage” related to the coup attempt of July 2016. Kavala, along with human rights organizations around the world, has unequivocally condemned these charges, calling them blatantly political.
Last month, a group of 10 ambassadors to Turkey, including those from the US, Canada, Germany, and France, issued a statement calling for Kavala’s release. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the statement, threatening to declare the ambassadors “persona non grata,” effectively expelling them from the country. In the end, the ambassadors relented, declaring that they would abide by the non-interference article (Article 41) of the Vienna convention. President Erdogan considered this a victory.
All told, Kavala has been held in pre-trial detention for 1,473 days without conviction.