Turkish court rules to keep Osman Kavala in jail despite Council of Europe move

An Istanbul court on Feb. 21 ruled to keep renowned philanthropist Osman Kavala behind bars despite the Council of Europe's (CoE) move to launch infringement procedure against Turkey. The court also separated the Çarşı and Gezi cases and set the next hearing for March 21.

Duvar English

A Turkish court on Feb. 21 ruled to keep philanthropist Osman Kavala in jail, lengthening his detention of more than four years without conviction, in a trial that has fuelled tensions in Ankara's relations with Western allies.

The Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court also decided to separate the Çarşı and Gezi cases and sent the Gezi case file to the prosecution for the preparation of the final opinion. It set the next hearing for March 21. 

Kavala was jailed on Nov. 1, 2017, on charges of helping to organize the 2013 Gezi protests in Istanbul. Turkish courts ruled to acquit him and his co-defendants of these charges in February 2020, but he was immediately re-arrested and detained on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” and “espionage” related to the coup attempt of July 2016. Kavala, along with human rights organizations around the world, has unequivocally condemned these charges, calling them blatantly political.

The acquittals in Gezi trial were overturned last year, and later combined with the trial against the Çarşı football fan group over the same protests.

The Council of Europe said this month its committee referred Kavala's case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to determine whether Turkey has failed to meet its obligation to implement the court's previous judgment more than two years ago that he should be released immediately. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan subsequently said when asked about the decision that Turkey will not respect the Council of Europe if it does not respect Turkish courts.