Turkey: Istanbul court accepts absurd new indictment against Osman Kavala

Turkey: Istanbul court accepts absurd new indictment against Osman Kavala

Following the acceptance of a new indictment by the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No.36 against civil society leader Osman Kavala, Amnesty International’s Europe Director Nils Muiznieks said:

Having been in prison for almost three years, Osman Kavala is now facing a new trial under an absurd new charge of ‘espionage’. With this new indictment, Osman Kavala faces a life sentence without the possibility of parole as well as up to an additional 20 years for ‘espionage’. Kafkaesque is an overused cliché but in the case of Osman Kavala, it is chillingly apt.

Nils Muiznieks, Europe Director, Amnesty International

“The European Court of Human Rights ruled last December that Osman Kavala’s prolonged pre-trial detention was unlawful and served an ‘ulterior purpose’. Yet, Turkey refuses to implement the binding judgment and to release him.

“Once again, we call on Turkey to end the shameful injustice that Osman Kavala has been subjected to, by freeing him from prison and dropping these manifestly vindictive proceedings against him.”

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The news of the new 64-page indictment came a week after a meeting of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers renewed its call on Turkey to comply with the European Court’s judgment for the release of Osman Kavala. On 29 September, Turkey’s Constitutional Court announced its decision to postpone the ruling regarding the legality of Osman Kavala’s ongoing pre-trial detention, stating that it would wait for the new indictment. A new date for the Constitutional Court’s considerations of the individual application is not known.

The new indictment presents Osman Kavala’s civil society initiatives consisting of cultural projects, details of his travel inside Turkey and abroad as ‘evidence’ of the two charges; his previous prosecution in the Gezi trial is referenced without mentioning that he was acquitted of all charges in February 2020. This decision is currently pending on appeal.

In September and in October, the Committee of Ministers called for the immediate release of Osman Kavala and for the elimination of the  negative consequences of the violation found by the ECtHR and  “underlined, therefore, the need to ensure that the appeal which is pending against the applicant’s acquittal of the previous charge brought against him in relation to the Gezi Park events of 2013 and the current investigation into his alleged involvement in the attempted coup of July 2016 are concluded without further delay on the basis of the Court’s findings”.