Osman Kavala: Council of Europe launches legal action against Turkey
The Council of Europe has announced that it will initiate rare disciplinary action against Turkey for the detention of philanthropist Osman Kavala.
The European human rights body warned Turkey in September that it would prosecute if it did not release Kavala.
Last week, an Istanbul court extended Kavala’s jail term, defying the European Court of Human Rights.
The Strasbourg court ruled that the 64-year-old businessman had been unjustly imprisoned and the Council of Europe had ordered Ankara to release him immediately.
The lengthy infringement procedure could see Turkey suspended from its voting rights or even from its membership of the Council of Europe. This will only be the second time that the Council of Europe has used this procedure, after Azerbaijan in 2017.
“Turkey refuses to comply with the final judgment of the court in this case,” the council said in a statement on Friday.
Ankara called on the Council of Europe to respect the ongoing legal proceedings in Turkey regarding Kavala.
Turkey’s foreign ministry said the European organization should “avoid taking further action, which would amount to interference with independent justice.”
Kavala has been in jail for over four years without ever having been convicted of a crime.
He is accused of funding nationwide anti-government protests in 2013 and of helping orchestrate the attempted coup in 2016. Turkey insists he is being held on the basis of the rulings of its courts.
But international NGOs have condemned his detention as a crackdown on political opponents and a violation of human rights.
After ten Western countries demanded Kavala’s release, Turkey first expelled a number of diplomats.