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Human Rights Commissioner Kofler and French Ambassador for Human Rights Croquette on the upcoming hearings in the trial against Osman Kavala and Taner Kılıç

14.02.2020 - Press release

Further hearings are scheduled on 18 and 19 February in the trials against Osman Kavala, a renowned Turkish businessman and founder of Anadolu Kültür, and his co-defendants, and against Taner Kılıç, Honorary Chair of Amnesty International’s Turkey section and the human rights defenders known as the “Istanbul 10”.

Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office Bärbel Kofler and French Ambassador for Human Rights François Croquette issued the following joint statement on this situation today (14 February):

We are continuing to follow the ongoing trials against Taner Kılıç, Osman Kavala and their co-defendants closely and with growing concern. These controversial trials have become a symbol in Turkey and elsewhere of the measures against independent civil society.

We continue to call urgently on Turkey to grant all of the defendants a fair and transparent trial in line with its international obligations. It is with increasing impatience that we remind Turkey of its duty, as a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, to implement the rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.

Background information:

Human rights activist Taner Kılıç was arrested on 6 June 2017. The Public Prosecutor’s Office is calling for his conviction as a “member of a terror organisation”. His trial has been combined with the one against the “Istanbul 10”, including the former director of Amnesty International’s Turkish section, Idil Eser, and the German human rights activist Peter Steudtner. The public prosecutor held the closing argument at the last hearing on 27 November 2019, calling for Idil Eser and four other defendants to be convicted of “supporting a terror organisation” and for the other defendants, including Peter Steudtner, to be found not guilty. At the next of a total of ten hearings on 19 February 2020, it is possible that the verdict will be announced after the closing argument by the defence.

Osman Kavala, director of the Turkish cultural foundation Anadolu Kültür, has been in prison since 18 October 2017. After almost 500 days without being indicted, he and 15 others were charged with, among other things, “attempting to overthrow the Government”. The Public Prosecutor’s Office is calling for life imprisonment without parole. The main charges concern the demonstrations in 2013 known as the Gezi Park protests, which the defendants are accused of planning and organising. On 10 December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights determined that Osman Kavala’s prolonged pre-trial detention is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and called for his immediate release. Turkey has not implemented this ruling so far.

Osman Kavala’s co-defendants are Yiğit Aksakoğlu, Ali Hakan Altınay, Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı, Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Can Dündar, Çiğdem Mater Utku, Gökçe Yılmaz, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, İnanç Ekmekçi, Memet Ali Alabora, Mine Özerden, Şerafettin Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi.

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