Turkey keeps businessman in jail despite European court release call

Published On: December 24, 2019 04:32 PM NPT By: Reuters

SILIVRI, Turkey, DEC 24: A Turkish court ruled on Tuesday to keep businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala in jail, despite a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) call for his release, as his trial over his involvement in 2013 protests continued.

Kavala has been in custody for more than two years, charged with attempting to overthrow the government by organizing and funding nationwide protests against then-Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Kavala, who faces life in jail if convicted, denies the allegations. Fifteen other defendants are on trial along with Kavala, who is currently the only one in jail. Their trial was adjourned until Jan. 28.

The European court called for his immediate release two weeks ago, saying there was a lack of reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offence. ECHR rulings are legally binding but Turkey has frequently not implemented them.

The Turkish court said it decided to keep Kavala in jail due to the severity of the alleged crimes and was awaiting a response from the justice ministry on whether the ECHR ruling was final.

The indictment cited tapped phone calls in which Kavala discussed sending pastries, milk, juice and gas masks to protesters as evidence that he financed the protests.

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