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Turkish Constitutional Court buries hopes for Osman Kavala’s release

As the world is about to turn the page on the calamitous year 2020, Turkish justice is chaining decisions that bode badly for the future of the rule of law in 2021 in Turkey. Most recently, the Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday, December 29 that the one thousand one hundred and fifty-five days spent in pre-trial detention by businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, crumbling under the most fanciful accusations, did not constitute a violation of his right to liberty and security.

Arrested on October 19, 2017, the patron, known for his commitment to the promotion of minority cultures in Turkey, was first tried for attempting to overthrow the government by force, on the grounds that he had financed and sponsored the vast movement protest, yet peaceful, in Gezi Park in the summer of 2013.

For lack of evidence, he was acquitted in February. But a new accusation issued the same day by the Istanbul prosecution, this time concerning his supposed support for the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016, justified his continued detention. This was confirmed in March by the addition of espionage to the list of grievances against him.

“A day of shame”

The decision of the Constitutional Court, taken by a narrow majority of eight judges against seven, goes against a verdict of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which had ordered in December 2019 in Ankara the “Immediate release” Osman Kavala, believing that his continued detention was a matter of “To silence” this eminent figure of civil society, “And with him all the defenders of human rights”. Details of the Turkish court’s motives are expected to be released in a month or two.

In a statement, the businessman called” foolish “ the fact “That the Constitutional Court can judge in conformity with the standards of the law (his) continued detention for a charge of espionage fabricated at the last minute, which does not correspond to the legal qualification of the crime and is not based on any evidence”.

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“The most prevalent and burning problem in the justice system is the use of pre-trial detention as a means of punishment, without strong grounds, influenced by political messages and a political context”, continued Osman Kavala.

The decision was also denounced by associations for the defense of human rights. “The Constitutional Court digs its own grave a little more”, commented on Twitter Emma Sinclair-Webb, director of Human Rights Watch in Turkey, lamenting “A flagrant affront to the ECHR”. Asked by AFP, Milena Buyum, in charge of the campaign on Turkey at Amnesty International, for her part, mentioned “A day of shame” who “Casts a shadow over moribund Turkish justice, while underlining its lack of independence”.

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