Statement by the Defense Counsels of Osman Kavala

26 January 2021

In light of the recent decisions of the Constitutional Court and the Istanbul Court of Appeal concerning the two files regarding our client Osman Kavala, we deem it a legal obligation to inform the public.

On 18 February 2020, the case publicly known as the “Gezi Trial” ended with a judgement of acquittal of all defendants by the Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court. On 22 January 2021, the Istanbul Court of Appeal overturned the verdict of acquittal and ruled that the case should be re-opened and people unrelated to each other and facing different charges should be tried together. The Appeal Court has thus opened the way to a process which will last for years and serve to keep the debates around the politically motivated allegations on the agenda.

What is important to note is that both the Gezi file and the file concerning the allegation of 'attempting to overthrow the constitutional order’ that the Istanbul Court of Appeal requested to be joined with it were examined by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) that evaluated Kavala's application and ruled that his pre-trial detention constituted a violation of the three articles of the European Convention of Human Rights (5/1, 5/4 and 18).  This ECtHR ruling was followed by two decisions taken and a resolution accepted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe urging the Turkish authorities to act in accordance with the ruling of the Court and take the necessary steps towards Kavala's immediate release. While making these decisions, the Committee of Ministers stated that the charges in the two files examined by the ECtHR and the 'espionage' charge on which Kavala is currently under arrest concern the same acts and allegations and his ongoing detention is based on the continuation of the accusations in a single file. The decision of the Constitutional Court of Turkey that found "no violation of rights" in the detention on the most recent "espionage" charge against Kavala was taken despite the Committee of Ministers’ decisions and resolution stating that the detention should be terminated immediately. It is extremely worrying that with the Constitutional Court decision that was taken by 8 against 7 votes, the individual right to liberty, which is guaranteed under the Constitution of Turkey, is disregarded by only one vote.

While stating that three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights were violated in Osman Kavala’s detention, ECtHR mentioned that the detention implicated an intention to silence the advocacy of rights. The decision taken by the Istanbul Court of Appeal last week is a decision that does not take into account the content of the ECtHR ruling and lends support to the increasing concern with the politically motivated judicial decisions.

As can be seen, the common point of all the decisions made to continue Osman Kavala’s detention is that they were taken without regard for the ECtHR ruling and the decisions of the Committee of Ministers urging the Turkish authorities to act in conformity with this ruling; these European institutions and their decisions were simply ignored.

These developments demonstrate the extent to which one can be hopeful about the new judicial reform package.

Defense Counsels of Osman Kavala

Atty. Köksal Bayraktar

Atty. Deniz Tolga Aytöre

Atty. İlkan Koyuncu