ISTANBUL (AFP) — A Turkish court on Tuesday, December 24 ignored calls to release a businessman charged with seeking to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, despite a ruling by Europe’s top rights body.
Osman Kavala, a leading figure in Turkey’s civil society who has funded projects across the country, has been in pre-trial detention since November 2017.
A respected figure in intellectual circles, Kavala is chairman of the Anatolian Culture Foundation, which promotes human rights through art, including with neighboring Armenia, with which Turkey has no diplomatic ties.
Turkish prosecutors accuse him and 15 other leading figures in civil society of involvement in anti-Erdogan protests in 2013 and the failed coup in 2016.
Kavala, who appeared in the dock wearing a dark jacket and a white shirt, dismissed the charges as “completely groundless”, according to an AFP correspondent in court.
“The 657-page indictment… proves I am innocent rather than guilty,” he told the court.