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Turkish court keeps philanthropist Kavala in jail, despite Council of Europe move (Updated)

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Osman Kavala has been in jail since 2017 on charges of seeking to overthrow the Turkish government

A Turkish court said on Monday philanthropist Osman Kavala must stay in prison, lengthening his detention of more than four years without conviction in a case that has fuelled tensions in Ankara’s relations with Western allies.

The Council of Europe this month referred Kavala’s case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to determine whether Turkey has failed to meet its obligation to implement a previous ECHR judgment, more than two years ago, that he should be released immediately.

President Tayyip Erdogan subsequently said that Turkey would not respect the Council of Europe if it did not respect Turkish courts.

The Turkish court on Monday ruled to keep Kavala, one of Turkey’s highest-profile detainees, in custody and set the next hearing for March 21.

After the ruling, Nacho Sanchez Amor, Turkey rapporteur for the European Parliament said Kavala’s imprisonment was unlawful, and added “tricks” would not hide the fact that ECHR decisions were being ignored.

“I was today at Caglayan courthouse for Osman Kavala’s trial and witnessed the umpteenth legal trick in this mockery of due process,” Amor said on Twitter.

Kavala was detained on Oct. 18, 2017.

He was acquitted in 2020 of charges related to nationwide protests in 2013, but hours later another court ordered his arrest based on a charge of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order related to a 2016 coup attempt.

That court later ruled to release him on that charge but ordered his detention on an espionage charge in the same case, a move critics said was aimed at circumventing the ECHR ruling.

 

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