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Prosecution seeks life sentence for Gezi Park activists, including Kavala

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor wants the three alleged masterminds of Turkey’s 2013 Gezi Park protests to be jailed for life, media outlets reported on Thursday.

In its final sentencing opinion submitted to the Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court, the prosecution said it was seeking an aggravated life for Osman Kavala, a renowned philanthropist, and human rights activist, Mucella Yapici, an executive of the Istanbul Chamber of Architects, and Yigit Aksakoglu, a civil society activist.

The court has also been requested by the prosecution to hand down prison sentences ranging between 15 to 20 years for six other defendants, Cigdem Mater Utku, Ali Hakan Altinay, Mine Ozerden, Serafettin Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Yigit Ali Ekmekci.

The defendants, including actors, lawyers, activists, and journalists, face a total of 47,520 years in prison on charges of attempting to overthrow the government by organizing the 2013 Gezi Park protests.

The prosecution sought the separation of the files of seven other defendants, including prominent critical journalist Can Dundar, who are living abroad.

Last week, the Istanbul court ruled during the sixth hearing of the Gezi trials that Kavala was to remain in custody during the trial despite a December ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ordering the businessman’s immediate release.

The court based its decision on a letter from Turkey’s justice ministry which said the ECtHR ruling had not been finalized.

In the fifth hearing of the trials in December, the court said that the Strasbourg court’s ruling had not yet reached the Turkish court.

Kavala, the only suspect in the case still behind bars, is accused by the Turkish state of being the chief conspirator behind the protests by using his non-profit arts and culture organization Anadolu Kultur to support the uprising financially.

The Gezi protests were triggered by the attempt of the then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to raze Istanbul’s central Gezi Park to build a shopping mall, later spreading rapidly to other cities.

The now president Erdogan deems the Gezi protests as a foreign-backed plot to bring down the government and carries on a crackdown against the alleged plotters of the demonstrations.

“There is no evidence that I financed an uprising against the government. All my actions took place within the boundaries of my legal rights,” said Kavala during the court hearing last week.

Little room for justice in Turkey’s Gezi Park trial, Amnesty International warns

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