Jailed Turkish businessman Kavala: I’m waiting to see the face of justice

Osman Kavala

Prominent Turkish businessman and human rights activist Osman Kavala, who has been in pre-trial detention in İstanbul’s Silivri Prison since November 2017, has said, “I am waiting for the day when I will be able to defend myself in court and see the face of justice.”

Sending a letter on August 19 on the occasion of his ninth month in prison Kavala wrote: “At least a year will have passed by the time the indictment is ready and the day of the trial arrives. I was not anxious when I was detained, and I am still not. But it is a strange thing not to see the face of justice for nine whole months.”

An İstanbul court ruled to arrest Kavala on Nov. 1, 2017, following 13 days in police custody on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and attempting to remove the government of the Turkish Republic.

Just before his arrest, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared Kavala a criminal and the “Turkish Soros,” implying that Kavala was plotting to undermine his rule through civil society organizations.

Kavala is known for his contributions to nongovernmental organizations and especially for his support for Kurdish political and human rights activists in Turkey.

In June the businessman filed a petition with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) complaining of a lengthy pretrial detention without the issuance of an indictment.

“My application to the ECtHR — like many other applications made in similar situations — is not an appeal to an unjustified court decision, but an appeal against a long detention without trial,” Kavala wrote in a letter he sent from prison and published on his website. “It is about the denial of the presumption of innocence and, above all, the value attributed to human freedom,” he added

The full text of Kavala’s letter published on the Free Osman Kavala website on August 19, 2018 is as follows:

A letter from Osman Kavala upon completion of his 9th month in prison:

After 9 months in Silivri prison

I have been in Silivri prison for nine months.

At least a year will have passed by the time the indictment is ready and the day of the trial arrives. I was not anxious when I was detained, and I am still not. But it is a strange thing not to see the face of justice for nine whole months.

Until now all my requests to be released have been turned down on the basis of the investigation file and without a court hearing. The court decisions have stated that the imputed offense – or the “charge thrown at me” in literally translated Turkish – necessitate my incarceration and that the duration of detention is in proportion with the punishment for such a crime. I am struck by the expression “the charge thrown at someone.” Generally, it is a harmful thing that gets thrown at someone, throwing a slap in the face or throwing mud… Usually, the verb to throw is also used to imply a quick and effortless act.

In my case, the charge “thrown” at me is “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and the government”. When this is the imputed crime it automatically comes with prison detention and it is thought that this is justifiable as long as the period of detention does not exceed the final sentence the accused gets if found guilty. Thus, the charge and part of the punishment are both “thrown” at the suspect right in the beginning, and for months one is left burdened with both.

I am waiting for the day when I will be able to defend myself in court and see the face of justice.

Osman Kavala

August 19, 2018
Silivri Prison

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