Turkish court denies Kavala’s retrial for third time against expectations 

A Turkish court has refused Gezi prisoner Osman Kavala’s retrial application for the third time. A new panel of judges was appointed to the case in line with Kavala’s request and was expected to approve the retrial, signaled by recent statements from pro-government figures.

Duvar English

An Istanbul heavy penal court on May 15 denied philanthropist Osman Kavala’s retrial request for the third time. Kavala was charged with a life sentence in the Gezi trial. 

Kavala’s lawyers submitted the retrial request on May 9, with a request for the court to change the presiding panel of judges who would decide on the retrial application. 

Accordingly, two judges who ruled for Kavala’s sentences would be replaced from the panel.

The court appointed a new panel to the case, raising expectations regarding Kavala and Gezi prisoners’ retrial. However, the new panel unanimously denied the request. 

In his application, Kavala emphasized the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings that found rights violations in his baseless imprisonment and demanded his immediate release. 

He said, “The decisions of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights are directly related to the right to demand justice not only for the applicants but for every citizen. Justice is necessary for everyone. Every citizen's life and rights are equally valuable,” while demanding a retrial. 

Kavala’s new application followed some pro-government columnists and figures’ positive signals regarding the retrial of the case. 

Unexpected voices close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) arose, advocating for resolving Kavala’s case through domestic courts, and defining his and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş’s imprisonment as “great cruelty and injustice.” 

The legal deadlock against Kavala’s retrial has put Turkey at odds with the Council of Europe. 

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe initiated infringement proceedings against Turkey for not abiding by the ECHR ruling regarding Kavala.

The proceedings could result in Turkey's eventual suspension from the Council of Europe, although it is one of the founding members of the council.

Philanthropist and businessperson Osman Kavala was arrested in 2017, and sentenced to aggravated life in prison without parole in April 2022, on charges of attempting to overthrow the government during the 2013 Gezi Park protests.