ISTANBUL, Feb 21 (Reuters) – A Turkish court said on Monday philanthropist Osman Kavala must stay in prison, lengthening his detention of more than four years without conviction, in a trial which has fueled tensions in Ankara’s relations with Western allies.
The Council of Europe said this month its committee referred Kavala’s case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to determine whether Turkey has failed to meet its obligation to implement the court’s previous judgment more than two years ago that he should be released immediately.
President Tayyip Erdogan subsequently said when asked about the decision that Turkey will not respect the Council of Europe if it does not respect Turkish courts.
The Turkish court on Monday ruled to keep Kavala, one of Turkey’s highest-profile detainees, in custody and set the next hearing for March 21. Kavala was detained on Oct. 18, 2017.
Kavala was acquitted in 2020 of charges related to 2013 nationwide protests. Hours later, another court ordered his arrest based on a charge of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order related to a 2016 coup attempt.
That court later ruled to release him on that charge but ordered his detention on an espionage charge in the same case, a move critics said was aimed at circumventing the ECHR ruling.
(Reporting by Ezgi ErkoyunWriting by Daren ButlerEditing by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay)
A file photo of Turkish riot police in front of the Istanbul court house where the trial of jailed Turkish businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala is took place on charges connected with a failed 2016 coup, in Istanbul, Turkey. EPA-EFE/TOLGA BOZOGLU