Jailed philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala believes his right to a fair trial was violated, said Süleyman Bülbül, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Also a member of Parliament’s Justice Committee, Bülbül recently visited Kavala in Silivri Prison, where he has been jailed pending trial for over two years.
The only jailed defendant in the Gezi case, Kavala is being tried for being among the “managers and organizers” of the 2013 Gezi Park protests, which were months-long anti-government protests that took place in Istanbul’s Taksim Square.
The European Court for Human Rights ruled on Dec. 10, 2019 that Kavala’s continued pre-trial imprisonment was a violation of his rights, but a Turkish court ruled against his release on Dec. 24, 2019.
Bülbül said that Kavala was struggling with the fact that he’s still in prison despite the ECHR ruling, adding that Kavala should be released.
“He says that his right to a fair trial was violated, and that he couldn’t use his right of defense,” Bülbül said about Kavala.
Lawyer Kozağaçlı: I couldn’t make my defense
While at Silivri Prison, Bülbül also met with lawyer Selçuk Kozağaçlı, who has been sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison for being a member of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front.
Kozağaçlı said he wasn’t able to use his right of defense because he wasn’t allowed access to the documents in his file.
“They gave us a total of 40 hours to observe [our files] on the computer, and only two hours per week. I couldn’t make my defense because I wasn’t able to go through my file,” Kozağaçlı said to Bülbül.
Favorable rulings by the ECHR and Turkey’s Supreme Court are overlooked by certain courts in Istanbul dubbed the “Istanbul group,” Kozağaçlı also told Bülbül, referring especially to the Istanbul 37th Heavy Penal Court.
“The Istanbul 37th Heavy Penal Court functions like a special court. Some 20 presidents of bar associations made complaints about this to the Council of Judges and Prosecutors, but still there have been no results,” Kozağaçlı told Bülbül.
Kozağaçlı also told him that the prison hospital was too small and under-capacity, Bülbül said.
“When you ask for an appointment for an MR, you get a date 14 months out. For physical therapy, you’ll get an appointment for 16 months later,” Kozağaçlı reportedly told Bülbül.
“The Justice Ministry should provide a platform for dialogue”
Bülbül also visited Grup Yorum member İbrahim Gökçek in Silivri Prison.
Gökçek’s crime is unknown, as the prosecution has failed to prepare an indictment since his arrest almost a year ago.
Gökçek has been on a hunger strike for 216 days, which he turned into a death fast on Jan. 4.
Other members of the left-wing band Grup Yorum, known for their political songwriting, have been on a hunger strike as well as they say they haven’t been allowed to perform, their cultural center has repeatedly been raided and their members have been arrested.
“His demands are that the ban on Grup Yorum concerts be lifted and that he not be jailed pending trial. He wants to play the guitar again,” Bülbül said of Gökçek.
“He says ‘We are not terrorists. We played for 250,000 people. We’re in prison for being critics,'” Gökçek reportedly said.