Osman Kavala’s lawyers praise dissenting judges in Constitutional Court ruling

Lawyers of Osman Kavala praised the dissenting opinions expressed by members of Turkey’s Constitutional Court on the espionage charges the jailed Turkish philanthropist is facing, in a statement they released on Wednesday.

Tuesday saw the court issue the justification for its December ruling that Kavala’s three-year-long pre-trial detention had not violated his rights to personal liberty and security by eight votes for and seven against.

The dissenting opinions of seven members of the court “clearly put forward that the charges and the detention are incompatible with our Constitution, ECHR, and the norms of the ECtHR,” said the lawyers.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had ruled for Kavala’s immediate release in December 2019, but Turkish courts have not complied. Earlier in February, human rights ambassadors from eight European countries called for Kavala’s release in light of the two-year-old ruling.

Chief Justice Zühtü Arslan said the case against Kavala had failed to present “even a simple suspicion ... let alone the strong indication”.

According to Deputy Chief Justice Hasan Tahsin Gökcan, at no point did any document involved in the case specified the subject of confidential information that Kavala allegedly abused, who it belonged to, and what Kavala may have done to obtain the information.

Any type of social work could be criminalised for “investigating the vulnerabilities of the society and sharing social-cultural secrets with foreigners”, if the case against Kavala is to set precedent, Justice Gökcan said.

Constitutional Court Member Engin Yıldırım referred to Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, and said, “In the case before us, the fact that the applicant was released twice and arrested three times with accusations based on almost the same fact and without introducing significant new evidence raising strong suspicion, also resembles a Kafkaesque legal spiral.”

The opinions noted in the detailed ruling were “still promising in terms of embracing the contemporary legal norms”, Kavala’s lawyers said, expressing hope for the “strong and brave opinions” expressed by the dissenting judges “attain their deserved position in the functioning of the Turkish judiciary”.