Turkish human rights defender Osman Kavala, who was rearrested hours after he was acquitted last week, says he is worried about the deteriorating situation in which Turkey’s judiciary finds itself.
“Of course, I feel sorry that I was subjected [by the Turkish state] to huge injustice. However, I am also worried about the desperate situation that the Turkish judicial institution has been put into,” Kavala told Utku Cakirozer, a lawmaker from the main secular opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), according to a report that appeared on Sunday in the critical daily Sozcu.
The businessman claimed he was facing an extraordinary injustice, adding, however, that he has not still lost his belief in the justice that will eventually set him free.
The prominent philanthropist’s second arrest came following the issuing of a detention warrant by the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office over charges related to the 2016 coup attempt.
Earlier on the same day, the Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court acquitted Kavala and his eight co-accused of charges in relation to their involvement with the 2013 nationwide Gezi Park protests.
Kavala told the CHP MP that he was arrested as he was being taken to the prison vehicle in order to be freed.
“I had packed my stuff and was taken out of the Silivri Prison [to be freed]. After a while, the prison vehicle was halted on the way. The official approaching the vehicle said that there was a new arrest warrant against me,” said Kavala.
Kavala was again put into the same ward in the same prison where CHP’s Cakirozer, a former journalist, visited Kavala following the arrest.
“Kavala’s [second] arrest is the most important indication for those who want to see how Turkey has swiftly moved away from, the rule of law and the judiciary has lost its independence and impartiality under the political press,” the MP said.
Kavala’s acquittal followed a ruling in December by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which had urged his immediate release.
Cakirozer also mentioned the situation of Selahattin Demirtas, former leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who has remained jailed despite another ECtHR decision ruling for his release.
“We cannot talk about democracy and the rule of law in Turkey as soon as both [Kavala and Demirtas] have been kept behind bars despite the ECtHR decisions that are binding on us [Turkey],” said the MP.
The ECtHR rulings are legally binding on Turkey as it is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) that the court was set up to enforce. However, the country has frequently not implemented the court’s decisions.
In a significant challenge against then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, thousands of protesters occupied the Gezi Park and Taksim square to prevent the cutting 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 another 5,000 people were injured.
The Erdogan regime, which accuses the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers of organizing the coup, has carried out a mass crackdown on the movement, with more than 500,000 suspected members being detained and with hundreds of thousands of public officers being fired or suspended.
Last week, following Erdogan’s criticism over the acquittal decision for the Gezi trial defendants, Turkey’s Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) launched an investigation into three judges who handed down the verdict.
The HSK, Turkey’s legal disciplinary body responsible for judicial appointments, will probe the panel of judges as to whether there were “flaws” in their acquittal decision.