The Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office has presented its final sentencing opinion (“esas hakkında mütalaa”) to the court regarding the Gezi Park case, in which 16 defendants are accused of attempting to overthrow the government, news portal T24 reported on Feb. 6.
Although defendants and their lawyers have many times drawn attention to the lack of evidence and manifestly illegal arguments in the prosecution’s indictment, the prosecutor has reiterated his previous stance, demanding aggravated life sentences for three of the defendants: renowned philanthropist Osman Kavala, the only jailed defendant in the case, civil society activist Yiğit Aksakoğlu and architect Mücella Yapıcı.
Kavala and Aksakoğlu were arrested in November 2017 and November 2018 respectively. While the court ruled that Aksakoğlu be released on probation with an international travel ban on June 25, 2019, Kavala remains arrested.
Kavala is accused of being one of the “managers and organizers” of 2013 Gezi Park protests, which took place in Istanbul’s Taksim following harsh government response to a group of protesters trying to prevent the cutting down of trees for a large development project planned by the government.
Kavala remains behind bars despite a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) demand for his release.
Prosecutor Edip Şahiner demanded in his legal opinion that six other defendants in the case (film producer Çiğdem Mater Utku, NGO director Ali Hakan Altınay, activist Mine Özerden, city planner and lawyer Tayfun Kahraman, lawyer Can Atalay and businessman Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi) be sentenced to 15-20 years in jail over charges of “aiding” the “organizers” of the Gezi Park protests.
The prosecutor also demanded that the files of seven other defendants in the case who are abroad be separated from the main case file: journalist Can Dündar, actor Memet Ali Alabora, actress Ayşe Pınar Alabora, NGO director Gökçe Yılmaz, playwright Handan Meltem Arıkan, activists Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu and İnanç Ekmekçi. He however accused these seven defendants “of undertaking the same actions” as the “three organizers” of the protests.