Serkan Alan / DUVAR
Renowned businessman, philanthropist and human rights activist Osman Kavala has criticized the successive court rulings to keep him in jail.
“I get acquitted and another court case is brought up urgently to keep me in prison. When it drops, a third case is brought up! I’m ashamed on their behalf over what has been happening,” Kavala told main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Utku Çakırözer in Silivri Prison.
“They’ve been making maneuvers to make sure that my imprisonment continues, but it’s illegal,” he also said.
Kavala and 15 others were being tried in the case into the 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, who was accused of being one of the “managers and organizers” of the protests, was arrested in November 2017 on suspicion of attempting to overthrow the government and the constitutional order through force and violence.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Dec. 10, 2019 that Turkey violated Kavala’s rights, citing the violation of Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights, finding that his imprisonment involves a restriction on rights for an improper purpose, while also calling for his immediate release.
Kavala and eight other defendants were on Feb. 18 acquitted by a court outside Istanbul in the Gezi Park trial. Within hours, a new warrant was issued for Kavala as part of the investigation into the failed 2016 coup attempt. The prosecutors accuse him of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” in this case.
He was rearrested on Feb. 19.
An Istanbul court late on March 9 ordered Kavala’s arrest once again, this time on new charges of “political or military espionage” within the framework of an ongoing investigation against the philanthropist.
Commenting on the most recent arrest ruling, Kavala said that he gave his testimony to court via a judicial conferencing system in a haste.
“I was reading a book at 9 p.m. in my cell. Prison guards came and took me. I couldn’t understand what was happening. They made me appear before judge in a haste. This time it was an espionage accusation! Hence, I was arrested for the third time in two and a half years,” he said.
Kavala also said that the date of the espionage trial was selected on purpose.
“They chose this way to not be seem like they didn’t implement the ECHR decision. The ECHR ruled for rights violations in both Gezi and coup attempt accusations. I should have been released immediately over the Dec. 10 ruling. In order for the continuation of my arrest, another accusation was needed beside these. Via making up this third accusation of espionage, they think that they will bypass the ECHR obstacle. On exactly March 9, the Justice Ministry needed to write a response to the ECHR on why I wasn’t released,” he said.
“The indictment into the accusations related to the July 15 coup attempt wasn’t prepared for two years, making it a part of the judicial reform package that was introduced last year. Hence, my release was compulsory since the indictment wasn’t prepared for two years. I think this is one of the reasons for why I hastily appeared before judge,” Kavala added.
Saying that he experienced three arrest rulings in the past 866 days in prison, Kavala noted that his testimony was never taken.
“I haven’t seen a prosecutor in my time under arrest. My testimony wasn’t even taken once. Is this a fair trial?” he said.