Turkey: Erdogan says Kavala case ‘closed’ after life sentence

“The ECtHR has nothing to do with it, this is over. Because it’s over? Because the sentence has been pronounced. The ECtHR can judge, but there is a sentence and the case is closed”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the media at Istanbul airport, before starting an official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Kavala, 64 and detained for four and a half years, was sentenced on Sunday to life in prison for “attempting to overthrow the government”, in a reference to the 2013 wide-ranging anti-government protests he was accused of funding, centered on Istanbul’s Gezi park.

In December 2019, the ECtHR (Council of Europe court) ruled that Kavala’s arrest had taken place in the absence of sufficient evidence that he had committed a crime.

It also found that his arrest and subsequent pretrial detention were intended to silence him and dissuade other human rights defenders from carrying out similar activities.

Turkey, as a member of the Council of Europe, has an obligation to implement the decisions of this judicial body.

In the same statements at Istanbul airport, Erdogan requested that “both in Turkey and abroad” “respect for a sentence issued by the Turkish judicial authorities” be shown, in reference to the strong criticism from abroad after the announcement of the deliberation.

“In other countries there are laws, in our country there are no laws?” asked Erdogan.

From the perspective of Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, leader of the People’s Republican Party (CHP, Social Democrat), this is the situation the country is going through.

“This fictitious court sentenced Kavala in a trial where he should have been acquitted. This does not happen anywhere in the world. But it happens in our country, because the judicial system is not independent”, declared the opposition politician on Tuesday.

The vice president of his party, Ozgur Ozel, had declared on Sunday, when the sentence was announced, that Kavala like the other seven intellectuals, each sentenced to 18 years in prison, should be “free” and that “history will judge Erdogan”. , which you will have to pay”.

Due to these statements, Erdogan’s lawyer will launch a lawsuit against the CHP leader, the President himself announced today.

“As a deputy [Ozel] it may not be a criminal case, but at least you will have to pay compensation for moral damages. And it’s not the only one,” Erdogan said.

“All those who do the same, people with foul mouths, they will all be sued by our lawyers. Some have immunity, some don’t. Those who do not, can immediately be subject to criminal proceedings”, added the Turkish head of state.

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