- A court in Istanbul has sentenced the famous cultural promoter Osman Kavala to life imprisonment.
- Judges found him guilty of attempted coup in connection with the 2013 Gezi mass protests against the Turkish government at the end of a widely criticized trial.
Kavala has been detained since November 2017. The courtroom immediately responded to the decision with boos and loud protests. The ruling is not yet legally binding.
According to the indictment, the allegations in the proceedings were a coup attempt in connection with the mass protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park in 2013 and “political and military espionage” in connection with the attempted coup in 2016.
Evaluate the effect of the signal to judge
Julia Hahn, reporter for Deutsche Welle SRF ranks what governance refers to in domestic and foreign policy.
Han explains that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is too harsh a punishment and sends deadly signals both internally and externally.
“Many were hoping that the spark of independence would continue in the Turkish judicial system, and they were hoping for a lighter verdict,” Han says.
In addition, many believed that the Turkish government would surrender – but Erdogan’s judiciary remained strict. Han asserts that in addition to Osman Kavala, other defendants were also sentenced to long prison terms, all of whom campaigned for civil society in Turkey.
Amnesty International described the ruling as a severe blow to human rights here in Turkey. Han fears the ruling will be another severe blow to the Turkish government’s already faltering relations with its Western partners.
The case sparked sharp international criticism of Turkey. For this reason, the country is threatened with expulsion from the Council of Europe. The European Court of Human Rights had already ordered the human rights activist’s release in 2019 and classified the detention as politically motivated.
At the end of 2021, a diplomatic scandal erupted after ten ambassadors to Turkey wrote to demand Kavala’s release. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saw this as unacceptable interference and threatened the diplomats with expulsion.
In the past, Erdogan has publicly referred to Kavala as a supporter of the Gezi protests and a financier of terrorism. This was criticized by Kavala’s lawyers as an improper interference with ongoing court proceedings. The government defends itself against such allegations by pointing to the independence of the Turkish judiciary.
The United States expressed deep concern about Kavala’s life sentence. “The unjust sentence against him goes against respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. We call once again on Turkey to release Osman Kavala,” the US State Department said on Monday.
The United States is deeply concerned about the ongoing judicial harassment in Turkey against leaders of civil society, the media, politics, and business.
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