Turkey’s top judicial body looking into philanthropist Osman Kavala’s detention

Osman Kavala © 2017 Anadolu Kültür

The Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK), Turkey’s top judicial administrative body, is seeking a review of records related to the arrest of prominent businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, a document dated November 11 and marked “urgent” revealed.

According to a Reuters report, the document said the information was sought in relation to a review of judges and prosecutors’ promotions, based on whether they upheld the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and Turkey’s Constitutional Court.

A statement on the HSK website on Friday said it was seeking court documents regarding all cases on which the ECtHR made rulings in order to decide on promotions and not just on one case, describing this as a “general and routine” practice.

The HSK is responsible for the appointments, assignments, authorizations, promotions and dismissals of judges and prosecutors.

Kavala was arrested in İstanbul on October 18, 2017 on charges of attempting to overthrow the government and the constitutional order by orchestrating and financing the 2013 Gezi Park protests, which led to his eventual imprisonment.

The ECtHR on December 10, 2019 found a violation upon reviewing Kavala’s application, calling for his immediate release. The judgment ruled that the evidence on which Kavala was detained for the Gezi protests and a 2016 coup attempt was insufficient and agreed that Kavala’s detention and the charges against him “pursued an ulterior purpose, namely, to silence him as a human rights defender.” Turkey, however, refused to abide by the ruling.

In February Kavala and eight other defendants were acquitted of charges of attempting to overthrow the state through their involvement in the 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.

An İstanbul prosecutor in October demanded an aggravated life sentence for Kavala as part of the investigation accusing him of “political espionage” in addition to “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.”

The indictment of Kavala was drafted by İstanbul Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz. Shortly after the indictment was accepted by the court, Yılmaz was appointed deputy minister of justice by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As deputy justice minister, Yılmaz also became an ex officio member of the 13-person HSK.

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