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Turkey extends Kavala’s jail term

A Turkish court has again ruled to keep businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala behind bars.

This is despite a decision from Europe’s democracy and human rights-promoting body to launch a rare disciplinary process against Turkey for failing to release him.

In a routine monthly review of his case, a panel of judges ruled for an extension of Mr Kavala’s detention, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Last month, the Council of Europe announced it was starting infringement proceedings against Turkey for failing to comply with European Court of Human Rights rulings that Mr Kavala was unjustly jailed and should be released.

The lengthy infringement process could lead to the suspension of Turkey’s voting rights or membership in the Council of Europe.

Mr Kavala, 64, has been in jail for more than four years without having been convicted of a crime.

The European court, whose decisions are binding on Council of Europe members, demanded his release two years ago pending trial. The court said his imprisonment aimed to silence him and was not supported by evidence of an offence. Turkey has called on the Council of Europe to respect Turkey’s legal proceedings.

Recently, his case also caused a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and 10 Western countries, including the United States, France and Germany, after they called for his release.

Mr Kavala is accused of allegedly financing nationwide anti-government protests in 2013 and helping orchestrate a coup attempt three years later. He denies the charges, which carry a life sentence without the chance of parole.

He was acquitted in February 2020 of charges in connection with the 2013 Gezi Park protests, but the ruling was overturned and linked to charges relating to the coup attempt.

His trial is now part of a merged case involving 51 other defendants, including fans of the Besiktas football club who were acquitted six years ago of charges related to the Gezi protests before that decision also was overturned.

The next hearing of the case is set for January 17.

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