The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has said in a press release that the Committee of Ministers –- the executive organ of the Council of Europe (CoE) –- Turkey and other parties involved in the case of prominent businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala will be able to submit written comments until April 19 as part of an infringement procedure launched against Turkey.
Kavala, 64, has not been convicted of a crime but has been incarcerated for more than four years, prompting claims of political persecution amid international criticism of Ankara’s crackdown on opponents.
The ECtHR on Wednesday said it received a formal request from the Committee of Ministers, on Feb. 21, 2022, to determine whether Turkey has failed to abide by its 2019 judgment in the case.
If the Grand Chamber, the court’s highest judicial body, finds a violation because of a failure by Turkey to abide by the ECtHR judgment, it will refer the case back to the Committee of Ministers for consideration of measures to be taken.
A finding of no violation would also lead to the case being referred back to the Committee of Ministers, which then closes its examination, the top European court said.
Turkey refuses to release Kavala despite a binding judgment of the ECtHR in December 2019 finding that his detention was in pursuance of an “ulterior motive,” that of silencing him as a human rights defender.
The council’s infringement procedure against Turkey could last months and possibly years, and the country could ultimately lose its voting rights or even be removed from the pan-European rights body it first joined in 1950.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry had previously issued a written statement describing the Committee of Ministers’ decision to officially begin an infringement procedure against Turkey on Feb. 2 as an “intervention against the independent judicial process” in Turkey.
Kavala is accused of funding nationwide anti-government protests in 2013 and helping orchestrate a failed coup in 2016. He denies the charges, which carry a life sentence without the chance of parole.
In October 2021 the ambassadors of 10 countries, including the US, Germany, and France, demanded Kavala’s immediate release in line with the 2019 ECtHR ruling.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to expel the envoys before backing down.
The philanthropist has become a symbol to his supporters of the sweeping crackdown Erdoğan unleashed after the 2016 coup attempt.
A Turkish court on Monday refused to release Kavala and set his next hearing for March 21.