Judge acquits Gezi Park philanthropist but police to re-arrest him

Yesterday the judge acquitted entrepreneur Osman Kavala to trial for (alleged) involvement in the protest. Activists and civil society celebrate a "historic" decision. But just after hours later a new warrent for his arrest is issued by the prosecutor in reference to the failed coup in 2016.


Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Turkish businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, imprisoned and on trial for his (alleged) role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests, was arrested and taken to the police headquarters a few hours after the acquittal verdict issued yesterday. According to state media reports, behind the new detention order there are new allegations of involvement in the (failed) coup of summer 2016.

The movement represented the first major demonstration of dissent against the authoritarianism of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then Prime Minister and today president with full powers. The acquittal that arrived yesterday at the conclusion of the trial for Kavala and eight other defendants (the subject of repeated criticism from numerous western governments), was greeted with surprise.

Upon hearing the verdict issued by the Istanbul court, activists and members of civil society had spoken of a "historic" decision that could represent the prelude to a new course for Turkey. The entrepreneur and philanthropist had been in prison for two and a half years and was about to return to freedom; however, shortly before his release, the new arrest warrant issued as part of another investigation into the coup orchestrated (according to official Ankara propaganda) by the network of exiled Islamic preacher Fetullah Gülen arrived.

The news of the new arrest sparked amazement and frustration among pro human rights activists, opposition MPs and foreign observers. Nacho Sanchez Amor, special representative for Turkey of the EU Parliament, says that "there is no prospect of improvement" in the country if "the power of attorney" undermines every minimum "step forward". Emma Sinclair-Webb of Human Rights Watch speaks of an arrest "without legal basis" and based only on the criterion of "revenge".

Eyewitnesses report that the police arrested Kuvala shortly after his release from Siliveri Prison on the western outskirts of Istanbul, and then sent him to headquarters after conducting some routine health checks. In these hours he should appear in the prosecutor's office which will decide whether to confirm the arrest warrant and send him back to prison.

Even before the judges, Kavala had been accused by Erdogan of conspiring against him by financing the peaceful movement of 2013. Reading the indictment, it was immediately apparent that there was no evidence to support the prosecutor's thesis but theories without legal basis; all elements that had raised more than one perplexity regarding the respect of Turkish justice for international and European standards.

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