A Turkish court on Monday ruled jailed businessman Osman Kavala should remain in prison, extending his detention for more than four years in a trial that has further strained Ankara’s relations with its Western allies.
The Council of Europe said this month that its committee had referred Kavala’s case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to determine whether Turkey had failed in its obligation to implement the The court’s previous ruling that he should be released immediately handed down more than two years ago.
This decision is the next step in an “infringement procedure”, which could lead to Turkey’s suspension from the Council of Europe, of which it is a founding member.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan then said, when asked about the decision, that Turkey would not respect the Council of Europe if it did not respect Turkish courts.
Kavala faced charges for the Gezi Park protests in 2013, a small number of protests in Istanbul that later escalated into nationwide riots that left eight protesters and one policeman dead. He was acquitted of all charges in February 2020, but an appeals court overturned that verdict in January.
He was also accused of taking part in the failed 2016 coup orchestrated by the Gülenist terrorist group (FETÖ) in Turkey and remanded in custody for espionage in March.
It is only the second time that the Council of Europe has used an infringement procedure against one of its 47 member states, the first occasion being an action in 2017 against Azerbaijan for its refusal to release the dissident Ilgar Mammadov.
In October, the embassies of the United States, Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden called for Kavala’s release in a statement. common.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of these countries, accusing them of interfering in the Turkish judicial system, while President Erdoğan announced that he had instructed Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to declare the 10 ambassadors persona no free. However, the embassies took a step back, preventing the crisis from deepening further.
The diplomatic row was resolved after the United States and several other countries issued statements saying they abided by the United Nations convention requiring diplomats not to interfere in the internal affairs of the host country.
The European Court of Human Rights called for Kavala’s release at the end of 2019 for lack of reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offence, ruling that his detention had served to silence him.
Earlier this month, Turkey urged the Council of Europe not to interfere in the country’s independent judiciary and to be impartial towards the country in response to a ruling in the Kavala case.