Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala jailed for life without parole

An Istanbul courtroom has sentenced a outstanding Turkish businessman and philanthropist to life in jail with out parole in a landmark case — a verdict campaigners described as an “outrageous” blow to human rights.

Osman Kavala, whose prosecution has turn out to be a litmus take a look at of the rule of legislation in Turkey, was discovered responsible of getting sought to overthrow the federal government regardless of years of objections to his remedy by western officers, human rights teams and one in every of Europe’s high courts.

Monday’s sentence dangers casting a shadow over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts to enhance relations with the west towards the backdrop of the disaster in Ukraine. Kavala’s case was on the centre of a diplomatic disaster final 12 months after a group of 10 western ambassadors referred to as for his launch. 

The courtroom, which acquitted Kavala on a cost of espionage, additionally sentenced a number of others to 18 years in jail for aiding what prosecutors mentioned was his try to overthrow the federal government throughout protests that swept Turkey in 2013.

Kavala, 64, had already spent 4 and a half years behind bars with none conviction. He is seen by human rights teams as a logo of Erdogan’s rising intolerance to dissent and the politicisation of the judiciary.

Milena Buyum, a campaigner on Turkey for Amnesty International, mentioned the prosecution had not supplied “a single shred of evidence to substantiate the accusation that Osman Kavala attempted to overthrow the government”.

She added: “This outrageous verdict is designed to send a very chilling message to the rest of civil society [and] to human rights defenders.”

Lawyers, opposition lawmakers and supporters gather in front of the Justice Palace, the Caglayan Courthouse, as a Turkish court holds a hearing of philanthropist Osman Kavala and 15 others over their role in nationwide protests in 2013,
Osman Kavala’s detention has been challenged by rights campaigners who say his case is emblematic of the politicisation of the judiciary beneath president Recep Tayyip Erdogan © Dilara Senkaya/Reuters

The European Court of Human Rights present in a 2019 ruling that Kavala’s detention was an try by the Turkish authorities to “silence” Erdogan’s critics and ordered his launch.

Ankara’s refusal to abide by that ruling final 12 months prompted the Council of Europe, the continent’s high human rights physique, to launch disciplinary proceedings that may finally outcome within the suspension of Turkey’s voting rights.

Turkey argued Kavala’s detention was linked to separate costs to these examined by the ECHR.

Emma Sinclair-Webb, director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch, mentioned the decision was a “huge act of defiance against the Council of Europe”.

She mentioned: “It shows the lengths that this president is willing to go to to defy international law, to defy democratic norms.”

Kavala, a former businessman who used his wealth to help initiatives targeted on conservation and minority rights, has at all times denied the costs towards him.

He was arrested in 2017 within the midst of a sweeping crackdown that adopted a bloody tried coup that befell the earlier 12 months. In 2020, he was acquitted solely to be rearrested hours later. His acquittal was overturned and the case was mixed with different costs towards him — the method that reached its conclusion on Monday.

Kavala has been repeatedly focused in public speeches by Erdogan, who described him as “the person who financed terrorists” throughout the 2013 protests. 

Kavala has mentioned he brazenly supported the protests, which started as an environmental marketing campaign and morphed into widespread anti-government demonstrations, however that he by no means orchestrated them or supplied them with monetary help because the authorities declare.

In his defence assertion, delivered by video hyperlink from Silivri Court on the outskirts of Istanbul on Friday, Kavala instructed the courtroom that, after dropping 4 and a half years of his life, “the only aspect I can find solace in is the possibility that the process I experienced could contribute to confronting the crucial problems in the judiciary of Turkey”.

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