A Turkish appeals court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of Osman Kavala, a prominent philanthropist and human rights activist. The 65-year-old is also a leading critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In April, Kavala was sentenced to life in prison on charges that included attempting to overthrow the government. The April verdict added to tensions in Ankara’s uneasy ties with the West.
Seven other defendants in the case were each sentenced to 18 years in prison.
On Wednesday, the appellate court ruled that the April verdict “complied with the law,” according to the Anadolu state news agency. The defense can still appeal the case in Turkey’s Supreme Court.
Turkey widely criticized over Kavala’s treatment
Kavala has been in pretrial detention since 2017, after he was accused of orchestrating and financing the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul in 2013.
In early 2020, a Turkish court acquitted him of all charges. Just a few hours later, however, charges were brought again, alleging involvement in the 2016 coup attempts, and he was re-arrested.
Kavala denied the allegations.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) demanded Kavala’s release, referring to the trial as “politically motivated.” Turkish officials have, however, repeatedly called the judiciary independent.
The Council of Europe threatened Turkey with disciplinary measures and, in December 2021, initiated infringement proceedings.
Last year, Turkey threatened to expel ten foreign ambassadors after their embassies signed a letter calling for Kavala’s release, sparking a brief diplomatic crisis.
In November, the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations in Germany gave the Award for the Dialogue of Cultures to Kavala in absentia.
Read Nore:Turkish court upholds life sentence for activist Kavala – DW – 12/28/2022