An Istanbul court has acquitted prominent philanthropist Osman Kavala and eight defendants in the 2013 Gezi Park case, but in a counter move, Istanbul’s chief prosecutor has ordered Kavala’s continued detention stemming from a separate case pertaining to his supposed involvement in the failed 2016 coup attempt.
Philanthropist and human rights activist Osman Kavala was detained by police late on Feb. 18, just hours after he was acquitted for his alleged role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests.
Kavala and eight other defendants were acquitted by a court outside Istanbul in the Gezi Park trial. Applause erupted in the courtroom and some people cried in disbelief when the decision was announced. But their joy was short lived.
Within hours, a new warrant from the Istanbul prosecutor’s office called for detention of Kavala as part of the investigation into the failed 2016 coup attempt. The prosecutors accuse him of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” in this case.
Kavala was detained outside the Silivri prison complex, where he was held, and was taken to the Istanbul police station. He is expected to be referred to the prosecutor’s office early on Feb. 19, where his testimony will be taken. Afterwards, he will appear before the court.
The fresh detention request came as scores of people including lawmakers, other defendants and supporters were waiting for Kavala to be released at a roadside restaurant near the Silivri prison complex.
“It was…[President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan who ordered the arrest of Kavala, and it was him who ordered his release today. We have been waiting for his release for 5 hours, and now they are making up charges related to the coup,” said pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Garo Paylan.
“Nobody is safe against this judicial cruelty in Turkey. I am seriously worried about arbitrary judicial decisions and trumped up charges,” he added.