Turkey’s judicial reform likely to overlook political prisoners – Kavala

Jailed Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala on Tuesday said that he does not expect for Turkey’s judicial reform package to include the country’s political prisoners or changes to length pre-trial detention periods.

Kavala made the remarks in a statement he issued from prison, ahead of a court hearing on Feb. 5 in a trial over his alleged involvement in the July 2019 coup attempt, Birgün newspaper said.

"It is understood that some politically motivated cases will not be affected by the regulations expected to be brought by the government’s judicial reform," Kavala said.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in November announced far-reaching economic and judicial reforms aimed at stabilising the legal situation and improving the investment climate.

"After the violation decision of the ECHR regarding my detention was finalized, the espionage accusation was invented from the same investigation file," Birgün cited Kavala as saying. Kavala said he had only been kept in prison for almost a year without any basis over the charge.

Held in pre-trial custody since Nov. 2017 on charges of seeking to overthrow the government, Kavala was acquitted of terrorism charges relating to the 2013 Gezi park protest movement in Feb. 2020. Hours later, he was remanded in custody over accusations of involvement in the 2016 failed coup attempt.

Kavala said the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals to overturn the acquittal verdict over the Gezi Park case and to join unrelated cases were used as a tool to prolong his detention on espionage charges, Birgün said.