Turkish prosecutor appeals acquittal verdict in Osman Kavala trial – Reuters

A Turkish prosecutor has appealed against the acquittal of businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala and eight others over their alleged role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests, calling for convictions as charged, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s filing could mean that Kavala is re-arrested on charges that he has been acquitted of while he is already behind bars facing new charges that were subsequently levelled at him, Reuters said.

Kavala was arrested in November 2017 over the nationwide protests that broke out in May 2013 over a plan to transform Gezi Park, a rare green space in central Istanbul, into a shopping mall.

The demonstrations quickly turned into a wave of anti-government demonstrations across Turkey, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan describes as a foreign-backed attempt to overthrow his government.

Kavala was one of nine activists accused of terror charges over their involvement in Gezi park protests. On Feb. 18, they were acquitted in a surprise ruling by Turkey’s Constitutional Court.

Hours after the acquittal, Istanbul prosecutors issued a fresh detention warrant for Kavala as part of an investigation into a separate incident, the failed 2016 coup against Erdoğan’s government. He was then re-arrested on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.” Kavala, who faces life in jail if convicted, denies the allegations.

Kavala’s re-arrest sparked immediate condemnation from human rights advocates. "This is a trial that should have never happened in the first place. This whole process has caused untold misery to those who were so wrongfully targeted," Emma Sinclair-Webb, of Human Rights Watch, told AFP.

The prosecutor’s appeal reported by Reuters means Kavala will remain in jail as charged.

The Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office submitted a 90-page document dated April 8 calling for the acquittal rulings in the Gezi Park case to be annulled and for the defendants to be convicted as charged, Reuters reported.

"It also called for a re-arrest order to be imposed on Kavala in connection with the Gezi case, even though he is already in custody," Reuters said.

The Gezi trial has been closely followed by Western diplomats and human rights advocates, who criticize the Turkish government for using the judicial system to silence opposition voices.

In December, The European Court of Human Rights called for the immediate release of Kavala, saying there was a lack of reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offense.