Ahead of the fifth and possibly final hearing in the trial of human rights defender Osman Kavala and seven other defendants on 21 March, Amnesty International is calling for their acquittal and Kavala’s immediate release.

In his final opinion, the prosecutor requested that Osman Kavala and Mücella Yapıcı – one of his co-defendants, who was the spokesperson for Taksim Solidarity at the time of the Gezi Park protests – be found guilty of “attempting to overthrow the government” . They face a possible aggravated life sentence.

“This weekend, Osman Kavala celebrated his 1,600and day in jail. Although he has not committed any internationally recognized crime, he remains arbitrarily detained on baseless charges in a facility far from his family, said Nils Muižnieks, Europe Director of Amnesty International.

“Since 2017, prosecuting authorities have tried to create a crime out of thin air, but repeatedly failed. On the contrary, each tortuous twist in this politically motivated prosecution has further exposed the void in Turkey’s judicial system. »

In January, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers took the rare step of initiating formal infringement proceedings against Turkey for its failure to release Osman Kavala. This came two years after the European Court of Human Rights found that the Turkish authorities had violated Osman Kavala’s right to liberty with the ulterior motive of silencing him and called for his immediate release.

Strikingly, the prosecutor also said in his final notice that the “espionage” charge for which Kavala is currently being held in prison is included in the charge he would like Kavala to be convicted of. Yet it was in response to this specific accusation that the European Court of Human Rights ruled that there was no reasonable suspicion that he had committed a crime to justify his imprisonment pending his trial. Meanwhile, Turkish authorities have spent the past two years arguing over the meaning of “espionage” in order to justify his imprisonment.

“Osman Kavala will never recover the four and a half years he has already spent behind bars solely because of his activism in civil society, said Nils Muižnieks..

“But this shameful farce can only have one result: the acquittal of Osman Kavala and all his co-defendants. Above all, Kavala himself must also be immediately and unconditionally released from prison.

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Osman Kavala was first accused of organizing the Gezi protests – mass protests in 2013 against an urban development project in Istanbul. After a court acquitted Kavala, authorities immediately re-arrested him for allegedly being behind the failed 2016 coup attempt. They also charged him with “espionage”.

Last summer, the court’s decision to merge Gezi’s charge with that of 35 football fans – a decision that would have extended Kavala’s stay behind bars, despite growing pressure to implement the European Court of human rights and release him – was suddenly canceled at the last hearing in February following a request by the prosecutor.

Turkey is only the second country to be the subject of an infringement procedure for non-execution of a binding judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Stefan Simanowitz, [email protected]