Hayati Yazıcı, deputy chairman of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said a new formula should be found to comply with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings on jailed former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş and prominent businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, the Kronos news website reported.
“Turkey recognizes the binding jurisdiction of the ECtHR, and it should find a new formula to comply with its rulings,” Yazıcı said.
Demirtaş was arrested in November 2016 and has been behind bars since then despite an ECtHR ruling in November 2018 that Demirtaş’s pretrial detention was political and ordering his release. Turkish courts refused to implement the ruling, and a regional appeals court in Turkey subsequently upheld a prison sentence handed down to Demirtaş for disseminating terrorist propaganda.
In February an appeals court upheld a prison sentence of three-and-a-half years handed down to Demirtaş for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Demirtaş was an outspoken critic of Turkey’s ruling party AKP and its leader, Erdoğan, before he was jailed. He ran in the presidential elections of 2014 and 2018 as a rival to Erdoğan. The imprisoned leader conducted his election campaign from jail for the 2018 election.
Sixty-four-year-old civil society leader Kavala, who has been kept in jail since 2017 without conviction of any crime, is accused of financing 2013 anti-government protests and playing a role in a 2016 coup attempt. If convicted, he could be jailed for life without the possibility of parole.
Turkey refuses to release Kavala despite a binding judgment of the ECtHR in December 2019 finding that his detention for allegedly directing and financing the Gezi Park protests of 2013 and for alleged involvement in the failed coup of July 2016 was in pursuance of an “ulterior motive,” that of silencing him as a human rights defender.
The Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee of Ministers on February 1 decided to take action against Turkey due to the philanthropist’s continued imprisonment and ordered that the case be submitted to the ECtHR for review, officially beginning an infringement procedure against Turkey.
Kavala appeared before a court Monday for the first time in months, only to have his case adjourned and his detention extended.
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. President Erdoğan threatened to expel the envoys before backing down.