A Turkish court on Thursday ruled for the continuation of pre-trial detention of Osman Kavala, a prominent businessman and philanthropist, who is accused of attempting to topple Turkey’s government by organizing protests in 2013, Deutsche Welle (DW) Turkish reported on Thursday.
Kavala made his defense statement on Thursday’s trial, denying the charges against him during the previous court session on Monday. He rejected any links to any clandestine organizations targeting the overthrow of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in the 2013 Gezi Park protests.
The Gezi protests began in the summer of 2013 with a small group of people aiming to stop the proposed demolition of the Gezi Park by then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and turned into a nationwide revolt due to his uncompromising stance and a heavy-handed police crackdown on protesters.
“I perceived the Gezi protests not as an attempt to overthrow the government, but a democratic campaign demanding the reversal of a wrong decision. I was not questioned regarding the accusations included in the indictment,” Kavala said in his defense.
The rights activist has already spent 625 days in prison in the court case in which 15 other leading civil society figures have been tried.
The 16 defendants, including civil society figures, writers and actors, are also accused of numerous other charges such as damaging property and places of worship and cemeteries, besides financing the protests in a bid to overthrow the government.
The 657-page indictment released on February 19 called for life sentences without parole for them.
Kavala is the only defendant behind bars following the release on probation of activist Yigit Aksakoglu during the last hearing on June 25.
Kavala’s detention will continue until October 8-9 when the next hearing of the trial was scheduled for.
The court reached the decision to extend his detention by a majority vote.
Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, released a statement before the trial, stating Germany’s backing for Turkey’s civil society.
“Once again today, Turkey’s critical civil society is on trial along with Osman Kavala and 15 other defendants. Once again, an attempt is being made to recast civic engagement as a foreign plot,” read the statement.