(Updated with a new detention warrant for Kavala)
Barely hours after he was acquitted with eight other accused, businessman and rights defender Osman Kavala, prosecutors issued a new warrant for his detention.
This came after an Istanbul court on Tuesday acquitted Kavala and his eight co-accused of charges in relation to their involvement with the 2013 nationwide Gezi Park protests.
The ruling on Tuesday was welcomed in the courtroom with applause and cheers of jubilation with some people crying in happiness.
The nine, including businessman and rights defender Osman Kavala, were effectively accused of attempting to overthrow the state through the Gezi Park protests.
In delivering the ruling, the judge said there was “not enough concrete evidence” against the accused.
Kavala, the only one of the nine was kept in jail, spent more than two years in Silivri prison in Istanbul.
Kavala was expected to be freed once the judgment had been communicated to prison authorities.
However, the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued a detention warrant for Kavala over charges related to the 2016 coup attempt, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported later on Tuesday.
Osman Kavala is not released. Even though acquitted from the Gezi case today, and with hundreds of friends and supporters waiting outside for hours for his release from prison, Kavala is detained over new charges— of instigating the July 15 coup. https://t.co/qyl1aVd1fu
— asli aydintasbas (@asliaydintasbas) February 18, 2020
Ankara’s western allies have criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government for “politically motivated” trials targeting tens of thousands in the country.
The European Court of Human Rights urged Kavala’s immediate release in December, saying he had not committed a crime as there was no reasonable suspicion in the Gezi indictment.
Human Rights Watch Turkey director Emma Sinclair-Webb told Reuters that the court’s decision was the right one, but the trial has been a sham process.
“We’ve seen Turkey’s justice system turned into an absurd, cruel theater. Osman Kavala has been robbed of over two years of his life,” she added.
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in 2013 in Istanbul and many cities all around the country opposing plans to build a replica Ottoman barracks on Istanbul’s Gezi Park, among many other decisions and rhetoric of the Erdogan government.
In a significant challenge against then-Prime Minister Erdogan, thousands of protestors occupied the Gezi Park and Taksim square to prevent the cut down of the trees.
The response of the police to the protests was brutal, and eight young protesters and a police officer were killed during the clashes, while 5.000 some others were injured.
Kavala and two other defendants, Yigit Aksakoglu and Mucella Yapici, had been facing life sentences over the charges of attempting to overthrow the government by organizing the protests.
A prosecutor was blaming the other five defendants for aiding them, a claim that denied by all nine defendants.
The court separated the case of seven other defendants who are abroad and lifted the arrest warrants for them.
The ruling is defined as a surprise by many critics of the Erdogan government, who assert that Turkish courts are not independent and are under the influence of the ruling party.
More than 80,000 people have been jailed pending trial since the abortive coup attempt of 2016. Presidential decrees under the rule of emergency dismissed some 150,000 civil servants, military personnel, bureaucrats, etc. from their posts.