Turkish Court extends philanthropist Kavala's detention

AFP
Istanbul, Turkey Updated: Oct 08, 2021, 09:12 PM(IST)

In this file photo taken on October 31, 2018, a journalist stands in front of a poster featuring jailed businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala during a press conference of his lawyers. A Turkish court has extended the detention of philanthropist Kavala on October 8, 2021. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The 64-year-old faces between 20 years and life in prison if convicted of charges that include trying to overturn the constitutional order and espionage.

An Istanbul court Friday extended the detention of a civil society leader whose jailing without a conviction for nearly four years could see Turkey suspended from Europe's top human rights body.

Parisian-born philanthropist and activist Osman Kavala faces a string of charges linked to 2013 anti-government protests and a failed military putsch in 2016.

Rights groups and some Western governments view his detention as a symbol of President Recept Tayyip Erdogan's growing intolerance of dissent.

Kavala was acquitted in February 2020 in connection with the 2013 rallies -- widely seen as the first serious challenge to Erdogan's nearly two-decade rule -- but then immediately rearrested on charges linked to the coup plot.

Diplomats from the US and eight European countries attended the packed courtroom in a case that now involves 52 suspects, -- including a group of football supporters alleged to have taken part in the 2013 unrest.

The 64-year-old faces between 20 years and life in prison if convicted of charges that include trying to overturn the constitutional order and espionage.

"What is striking about the charges brought against me is not merely the fact that they are not based on any evidence," Kavala told the court.

"They are allegations of a fantastic nature based on conspiracy theories overstepping the bounds of reason."

The Council of Europe warned last month that it would launch disciplinary proceedings against Turkey "in the event that (Kavala) is not released before" the human rights body's next meeting on November 30-December 2.

The Istanbul court scheduled another hearing for November 26.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) also ordered Kavala's release in December 2019 and has since reaffirmed its call in a series of increasingly urgent statements.

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