Turkish court begins new trial of philanthropist Osman Kavala



A view of the court where the trial of journalists of the now-defunct Zaman newspaper on charges of aiding terror groups was held, in Istanbul, Friday, July 6, 2018. A court in Istanbul has convicted six journalists of terror-related charges, sentencing them to lengthy prison terms in a case that had heightened concerns over freedoms of expression and media. The court, however, on Friday acquitted five other journalists of the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, which was close to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016. Gulen denies involvement. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

A court in Istanbul is due on Friday to begin hearings in a new trial of prominent philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala on charges linked to an attempted coup in 2016.

Kavala has been behind bars since November 2017.

He was acquitted in February in a separate trial in which he was accused of organising and financing the Gezi Park environmental protests in Istanbul.

The crackdown on the demonstrators triggered nationwide anti-government protests, also representing the largest of such mobilisation against then-prime minister, now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, before Kavala could walk free, a new warrant was issued for him for espionage and attempting to overthrow the constitutional order in connection with the failed coup.

This Week, Turkey’s Constitutional Court did not rule on the legality of Kavala’s pre-trial detention, but referred the matter to its General Council, which lawyers viewed as a delaying tactic.

Kavala “is facing more baseless, politically motivated charges in a prosecution which is part of a wider attempt by Turkish authorities to silence independent civil society,’’ said Amnesty International’s Europe director, Nils Muizniek.

The European Court of Human Rights has demanded his release.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2018, Erdogan publicly accused Kavala of financing the Gezi protests with backing from U.S. Hungarian investor and philanthropist George Soros. He has repeatedly called the protests an international conspiracy.

Kavala, chair of Anadolu Kultur, which also works with the Goethe Institute, blamed Erdogan’s intervention for his re-arrest. (dpa/NAN)