September 28, 2022

Turkish opposition leaders vowed to overturn jail sentences towards philanthropist Osman Kavala and 7 others convicted on the finish of a case that attorneys mentioned confirmed courts had grow to be the federal government’s “automobile for revenge”.

Kavala was sentenced to life in jail with out parole, whereas seven others received 18 years primarily based on claims they organised and financed nationwide protests in 2013, costs from which they had been acquitted two years in the past.

The decision was seen as symbolic of a crackdown on dissent underneath President Tayyip Erdogan and the punishment of the federal government’s perceived foes via the usage of the judiciary.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chief of the Republican Folks’s Occasion (CHP), promised on Monday to reinstate the rule of regulation if the opposition wins elections scheduled for June 2023.

“On this fictitious trial, Osman Kavala was sentenced to life in jail in a case wherein he was beforehand acquitted,” he mentioned in a speech to CHP members on Tuesday.

“We are going to battle towards those that place the judiciary underneath the orders of politics…. and maintain our individuals hostage in prisons,” mentioned Kilicdaroglu, who’s seen as Erdogan’s probably challenger for the presidency.

His description of the so-called Gezi protests as “a nationwide motion” stands in distinction to Erdogan’s view that the demonstrations aimed to topple the federal government.

A whole bunch of 1000’s marched in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey in 2013 as demonstrations towards plans to construct a duplicate Ottoman barracks within the metropolis’s Gezi Park grew into nationwide protests towards Erdogan’s authorities.

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The president has equated the protesters to Kurdish militants and people accused of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016. He has accused Kavala personally a number of instances of being the financier of the protests.

However the CHP and 5 different opposition events which have shaped an alliance to defeat Erdogan within the subsequent elections have sounded the alarm over the decision.

“The members of the judiciary, who conduct the trial themselves, have deserted their authority and talent for judgement,” mentioned IYI Occasion basic secretary Ugur Poyraz.

Greater than 1,000 individuals gathered on a slim avenue close to Taksim Sq. to protest towards the decision on Tuesday, chanting “freedom to political prisoners” amongst different slogans. The Istanbul governor’s workplace mentioned 51 individuals had been detained.

Attorneys earlier staged a protest in Istanbul’s important courthouse, and a few 300 individuals additionally gathered in central Ankara.

Ankara’s Western allies, opposition members and rights teams say Turkish courts are underneath the management of the federal government. Erdogan and his AK Occasion say they’re unbiased.


The investigation that started with Kavala’s detention in October 2017 has seen varied turns that solid doubt over the legality of the judicial course of, which critics mentioned aimed to “rewrite historical past” and criminalise the Gezi protests.

The indictment within the case alleged hyperlinks between George Soros and Kavala, in what attorneys mentioned was an try to create the notion that the protests had been funded by overseas powers.

The indictment mentioned the truth that defendants mentioned bringing milk, juice and pastries to Gezi Park, in addition to gasoline masks to counter the results of tear gasoline, confirmed they had been financing the protests.

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One other courtroom dominated in 2020 that the proof, initially gathered by a gaggle inside the judiciary that Ankara accuses of orchestrating the coup, was not sufficient for a conviction.

Comparable considerations had been highlighted by one of many judges who dissented from Monday’s verdict.

The decide, one among three presiding, mentioned the one proof was cellphone faucets that had been collected illegally and, even when they had been authorized, weren’t sufficient to convict by themselves.

All defendants ought to be acquitted and Kavala, who had been in jail for 4-1/2 years with out a conviction, ought to be launched, the decide wrote in his dissenting opinion.

Veysel Okay, lawyer and co-director of Media and Regulation Research Affiliation, mentioned Monday’s verdict was void of “judicial logic” and aimed to intimidate these in search of the rule of regulation.

“This ruling reveals us the image of a judiciary that has grow to be a automobile for revenge because of political pursuits. It’s a signal that nobody in Turkey has authorized safety,” he mentioned. The decision confirmed the judiciary can be used “as the elemental weapon” to “deliver the opposition to line” earlier than the elections.

“It signifies {that a} a lot harsher interval awaits us and that the general public opposition and civil society want to stay collectively.”

The European Courtroom of Human Rights (ECHR) referred to as in Dec. 2019 for Kavala’s launch, saying his detention served the aim of silencing him.

However Kavala’s continued detention means Turkey faces being suspended from the Council of Europe rights watchdog, after it launched uncommon infringement proceedings towards Ankara.

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Kavala was re-arrested hours after the acquittal and has remained in jail for the final two years on an espionage cost, a transfer seen as trying to bypass the ECHR ruling. Kavala was acquitted of espionage on Monday.

All defendants have at all times denied the fees, saying the Gezi protests had been protected by constitutional rights.

Three defendants, Mucella Yapici, Can Atalay and Tayfun Kahraman, mentioned collectively in courtroom on Friday that the Gezi protests weren’t organised by a gaggle however erupted spontaneously.

“The Gezi resistance is essentially the most democratic, artistic, egalitarian, complete and peaceable mass motion within the historical past of this nation,” they informed the courtroom.

“The one power that may lead thousands and thousands of individuals to spill on to the road for weeks can solely be individuals’s personal will.”

(Writing by Ece Toksabay; Modifying by William Maclean and Barbara Lewis)