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Kavala: 15 months in pretrial detention and still no indictment

Human rights activist and businessperson Osman Kavala, who has been jailed in the Silivri Prison of Istanbul for 15 months in pretrial detention, criticised the fact that he has still not received the indictment, Bianet reported.

In a letter that Kavala sent from prison on Saturday, he wrote that he had not yet been questioned by the prosecutor’s office and his indictment was yet to be filed. “At the end of January, I will have completed my 15th month in Silivri. I am still waiting for the indictment to be prepared. I have not been questioned by the prosecutor to this day,” Kavala said, adding that his demands to be released had been rejected 19 times.

Kavala was accused of trying to change the constitutional order and overthrow the government by organising and financing the anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013. He was detained in October 2017 as part of an investigation into the Gulen movement, which Ankara blamed for orchestrating the unsuccessful coup in 2016.

In his letter, Kavala explained that he applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the eighth month of his detainment. “The ECtHR accepted our request that the case should be evaluated with priority and requested a defense from the Ministry of Justice. After the time expired on January 10, 2018, we learned that the Ministry of Justice (Turkey) got additional time from the ECtHR.”

Considering that he has spent 15 months in prison awaiting an indictment, Kavala questioned the accuracy of charges directed at him, labelling it as an extrajudicial sentence. “The request for additional time from the ECtHR makes me think that there are some hesitations about the appropriateness of the verdicts of the arrest and the extension of the arrest,” he wrote.

“If the charges such as changing the constitutional order and overthrowing the government are based on such clear and certain findings as it was stated in the press release of the Prosecutor’s Office, I suppose the indictment would be prepared and a defence statement would be sent to the ECtHR,” he said. “Otherwise, allegations and arrests which are not based on strong reasons will continue to restrict the individual rights and freedoms like in my case,” added Kavala.

The Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, submitted an opinion on the case in January, describing the imprisonment of Kavala as part of increasing pressure on Turkey for the legitimate activities of human rights activists. She criticised Turkey’s Constitutional Court for being ineffective to prevent long periods of pre-detention.

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