BHRC condemns the continued detention and harassment of Osman Kavala in the wake of new investigation

BHRC has today released a statement condemning the arrest and detention of Osman Kavala in respect of a new criminal investigation, following his acquittal in the baseless ‘Gezi Park’ trial, thereby extending the 928 days he has already spent in detention. In a further worrying development, it was announced yesterday that the Turkish Council of Judges and Prosecutors has initiated a disciplinary investigation concerning the panel of judges who acquitted Defendants in the Gezi Park trial.

BHRC strongly condemns any such interference in the impartiality of the judiciary and calls for any investigation to be halted. The move against the judges could also potentially be a way of intimidating judges dealing with Kavala’s new case.

On 18 February 2020, Osman Kavala and 8 other defendants were acquitted of all charges as the Court held that there was no evidence in relation to allegations that they had plotted to overthrow the Turkish state by force and violence during the protests centred around Gezi Park in Istanbul in 2013.

BHRC has monitored this trial since the first hearing on 24 June 2019. Alongside many other national and international observers, it has consistently stated that the charges, based upon a sprawling 657-page indictment, were nonsensical and lacked any proper evidential foundation. The European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) ruled on 10 December 2019 in the case of Kavala v Turkey (28749/18) that the state had violated Articles 5(1), 5(4) and 18 and had brought the charges for the purpose of deterring and silencing human-rights defenders in Turkey.

BHRC calls upon the authorities to release Osman Kavala immediately. It further calls upon the Turkish authorities to cease instigating politically-motivated investigations in order to harass human rights defenders and civil society activists.

Kevin Dent QC attended Tuesday’s hearing on behalf of BHRC.

Read the statement in full here.