The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) published its decision on Monday regarding Turkey’s refusal to release prominent philanthropist and rights activist Osman Kavala, who was sentenced to life in prison in May.
The court ruled that Turkey violated a previous ECHR judgment in the Kavala v. Turkey case from December 2019 which called for Kavala’s release.
Monday’s court ruling also ordered Turkey to pay Kavala €7,500 ($7,580) for failing to implement the previous ruling.
It is rare for the court to explicitly rebuke a state for failing to comply with a decision. Given that it was Council of Europe (CoE) ministers who referred the case to the court in February, Monday’s decision is seen as a step closer to suspending Turkey from membership.
“We urge Turkey, as a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, to take all necessary measures to implement the judgment,” the Council of Europe said Monday, using the name Ankara’s favorite for Turkey.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in response that Monday’s decision “once again calls into question the credibility of the European human rights system”.
Violation of the European Convention on Human Rights
The court decided by 16 votes to 1 that Turkey violated the European Convention on Human Rights by not respecting the ECHR’s decision.
The judges found that Turkey had taken certain steps to follow the previous judgment, but that these had not been done in “good faith” or in a manner consistent with the “findings and spirit” of the stop.
Kavala had previously been held for four and a half years without conviction.
The philanthropist was among several high-profile defendants who had been accused of having links to the Gezi Park protests in 2013 and the subsequent 2016 coup attempt.
Accusations aimed at “silencing” Kavala
Although Kavala, 64, was released by court order, he was immediately re-arrested on charges “based on facts similar, if not identical, to those which the Court had already considered in the Kavala judgment”, said the ECHR in a statement.
According to the court, the charges against Kavala “were not based on reasonable suspicion and the real purpose of the impugned measures was to silence him and deter other human rights defenders”.
He was acquitted of charges of financing the 2013 protests before being re-arrested and accused of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order in connection with the attempted coup.
He was acquitted again, but then arrested on charges of espionage, seen at the time as a way to circumvent the 2019 ECHR judgment.
ab/rc (Reuters, AFP)