Istanbul court rules to keep philanthropist Osman Kavala in jail

A court ruled on March 21 to keep businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala in jail in a hearing of a case into the 2013 nationwide anti-government Gezi Park protests and adjourned the hearing to April 22.

Duvar English

An Istanbul court has ruled to keep businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala in jail.

The court ruled to keep Kavala, who has been in jail for over four years, in prison and adjourned the hearing to April 22.

In his final opinion, a prosecutor on the case had sought aggravated life sentences for Kavala, the only imprisoned defendant in the case, and activist Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı, for attempting to overthrow the Turkish government through force and violence.

The prosecutor also said six other defendants on the case should be given 20 years in jail each.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called on judges to maintain “impartiality” in the Gezi case before the hearing.

“Our youth defended nature, life and this beautiful country at Gezi. Now, a decision stage has been arrived at in the case that opened against them. The judges should not bow to any political pressure and should not stain the reputation of the judiciary. Decide not upon an order, but with your free will,” he said in a tweet on March 20.

Kavala, who has been imprisoned for more than four years, is being accused of financing the 2013 anti-government protests and playing a role in a coup plot against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The ruling to keep him in prison is in defiance of a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling calling for his release.

Last month, the Council of Europe launched rare disciplinary action against Turkey over the case, which Ankara denounced as interference.

Kavala’s case sparked a diplomatic spat after Erdoğan threatened to expel 10 Western countries' envoys including those of the United States and major European powers after they made an appeal for Kavala's release last October.

But the new hearing comes as Erdoğan attempts to salvage battered ties with the European Union in recent months, a bid which intensified after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.