The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday ruled that Turkey had violated jailed philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala’s rights and called for his immediate release.

Kavala has been held in solitary confinement since November 2017, facing charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government. Prosecutors accused him of masterminding the Gezi Park protests of 2013, the biggest anti-government demonstrations since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist party came to power in 2002.

Kavala appealed to the European Court in June 2018, saying his pre-trial detention violated his right to life and liberty, and was politically motivated, pertaining to Articles 5 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court ruled unanimously that Turkey had infringed on Kavala’s right to liberty and security and right to a speedy decision on the lawfulness of detention, covered in Article 5, and six to one that Turkey had breached Article 18, which sets limitations on a state’s use of measures restricting a person’s rights.

While the court’s rulings are in theory binding on Turkey, Turkish authorities have in the past refused to implement them.

Kavala should not be on trial in the first place, but if a trial could not be avoided, the philanthropist should not have awaited trial in jail, Amnesty International Turkey’s Campaigns and Communication Director Tarik Beyhan said.

The Gezi Park protests started as a small peaceful gathering of environmental activists protesting the demolition of one of the last green spaces in Istanbul’s bustling Beyoglu district for the construction of an Ottoman-style shopping centre.

Civic rights group Taksim Solidarity, which had its roots in an earlier protest against the demolition of an historic cinema in Beyoglu, became the de facto public face of the Gezi Park protests. Members of Taksim Solidarity are also facing trial in the same case as Kavala, but he remains the only defendant in still held pre-trial detention.

Source: National News Agency