Turkey: Charges against Osman Kavala 'must be dropped
In response to a decision by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to reject an application by civil society leader Osman Kavala to end his continued pre-trial detention on the grounds that it is in violation of his human rights, Amnesty International’s Turkey Campaigner Milena Buyum said:
“Today’s inexplicable decision by Turkey’s highest court rubs salt into the wound of injustice. Osman Kavala’s rights have been abused. He should not have spent a single day behind bars, let alone nearly 600 days. The charges against him must be dropped and he must be immediately released.
“The outlandish allegations against Osman Kavala are an attempt to rewrite history and to silence one of Turkey’s most prominent civil society figures.
“Yet again, following a decision earlier this month to reject the applications of jailed journalists Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak, the Constitutional Court’s decision has prolonged the detention of someone who should never have been imprisoned in the first place.
“All eyes now turn to the European Court of Human Rights, which is currently considering Osman Kavala’s case and must urgently remedy this travesty of justice.”
Osman Kavala was detained by the police in Istanbul on 18 October 2017 and then remanded in prison pending trial by a court decision on 1 November for ‘attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, attempting to overthrow the government of the Turkish republic or to prevent it from performing its duties’. In the following days and weeks, a smear campaign was mounted against him in the pro-government media using details leaked from the investigation. These media reports alleged that Osman Kavala was questioned about having links with the alleged organisers of the July 2016 failed coup attempt.
After 2 years in detention, the smear campaign in the pro-government media focused on Kavala’s contribution to the Gezi Park protests and claimed that he financed the protest and tried to spread it to other cities in Turkey.
Osman Kavala is among 16 defendants who are facing serious charges that carry the most severe sentence in Turkey criminal law – life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The indictment in the case dated 19 February 2019 was accepted on 4 March 2019 by the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 30. The first hearing in the case is scheduled to take place on 24 and 25 June 2019 at Silivri prison where he and another defendant, Yigit Aksakoglu are being held.