Statement by Osman Kavala's Defense Counsels

4 August 2021

Osman Kavala has been in detention for 1373 days. During this time, he has stood trial on three separate charges. The first two charges were related to allegedly being the organizer and financier of the Gezi protests (Turkish Penal Code article 312) and purportedly attempting to change the constitutional order (article 309) by supporting the July 15 coup attempt. Prior to Kavala being acquitted and released in the Gezi lawsuit, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had stated that there was “insufficient evidence” to support these two charges, found multiple violations of Kavala’s rights, and demanded his immediate release. After the decision of the ECtHR and the Gezi trial acquittal, a third charge, this time concerning espionage (article 328), was brought against Kavala to justify continuing his detention, and he was detained on this charge.

While Kavala was in detention on espionage charges, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which monitors whether the decisions of the ECtHR are implemented or not, in all of its meetings to date issued decisions calling on the Turkish authorities to take steps to immediately release Kavala in line with the ECtHR decision.

All kinds of extrajudicial means have been and are being implemented to unlawfully prolong the detention of Osman Kavala. After the indictment against him including the accusation of espionage was accepted by the 36th High Criminal Court and the trial proceeded to the verdict stage, a new development occurred. The regional court of appeal ruled to overturn the acquittal in the Gezi trial and to merge this case with the Çarşı case - which is also related to the Gezi events. As a result, Kavala’s file concerning the espionage charge was sent to the Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court which had heard the Gezi case.

Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court held only one hearing within seven months of the date of receiving the file, did not sign any conclusions, did not listen to any witnesses, did not even write a single warrant. Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court wrote to Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court - which is handling the “Çarşı-Gezi” file – asking for the court’s consent to merge the cases, and expressing the opinion that they should be merged.

Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court did not make a decision on the merging, scheduled a hearing for October 8, and decided to evaluate the merging issue after receiving a written statement by the defendant’s lawyers. The 13th High Criminal Court did not give consent for the merging until the start of the judicial recess.

With the start of the judicial recess, the chief judge of Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court was temporarily appointed to be chief judge of Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court. As the temporary chief judge of the 13th High Criminal Court, he proceeded to sign off on the response to the request to the 13th High Criminal Court he himself had written in his capacity as the chief judge of the 30th High Criminal, thereby giving consent to his own request to merge the cases!

The 4th Judicial Package, which came into force while all these extrajudicial and irrational practices continued, included an article on “the requirement of ‘concrete evidence’ in the decisions of arrest and continuation of detention”. In the trial conducted against Osman Kavala at Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court, continuation of detention was ordered without providing any “concrete evidence” despite our insistent demands. Moreover, Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court canceled the hearing that was scheduled to be held on August 6, and as a result of the detention evaluation held on August 2, it decided to continue the detention of Osman Kavala, ignoring the requirement to cite “concrete evidence” mentioned in the 4th Judicial Package.

We leave the interpretation of these illegal practices, which became familiar in the Kavala file and which have to be traced in the recent past, to the public opinion. We would like to reiterate to the public the essential point that unfortunately the violations of Osman Kavala’s rights found by the ECtHR in its decision are continuing and the rules regarding detention are intentionally not being implemented. 

Osman Kavala's Defense Counsels
Atty. Köksal Bayraktar
Atty. Deniz Tolga Aytöre
Atty. İlkan Koyuncu