Alexandra Louis, general rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the situation of human rights defenders, in a statement on November 2 appealed to Turkish authorities to immediately release jailed Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala.
In her statement Louis said “It is very shocking that Mr Kavala remains in pre-trial detention and that a new indictment has recently been issued against him, despite … the decisions of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers calling for his immediate release.”
Louis’s statement comes on the occasion of the third anniversary of Kavala’s pre-trial detention.
Kavala will be tried before the Istanbul 36th High Criminal Court on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” through his alleged involvement in a coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016 as well as “political espionage” for an additional 20 years in prison.
In February Kavala and eight other defendants were acquitted of charges of attempting to overthrow the state through their involvement in the 2013 nationwide Gezi Park protests. After spending more than two years in İstanbul’s Silivri Prison, the judge said there was “not enough concrete evidence” against the accused.
However, just hours before he was released, the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a detention warrant for Kavala on charges related to the failed coup.
Kavala’s lawyers described the new arrest as a tactic to circumvent a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). In December the court had urged Kavala’s immediate release, saying he had not committed a crime as there was no reasonable suspicion in the Gezi indictment.
In her statement general rapporteur Louis also reiterated her appeal to Turkish authorities to respect their international commitments to the protection of human rights and refrain from intimidation and reprisal against human rights defenders.