Turkish court to start new trial of philanthropist Osman Kavala

A court in Istanbul is due on Friday to begin hearings in a new trial of prominent philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala on charges linked to an attempted coup in 2016. Kavala has been behind bars since November 2017.

He was acquitted in February in a separate trial in which he was accused of organising and financing the Gezi Park environmental protests in Istanbul.

The crackdown on the demonstrators triggered nationwide anti-government protests, also representing the largest such mobilisation against then-prime minister, now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

However, before Kavala could walk free, a new warrant was issued for him for "espionage" and "attempting to overthrow the constitutional order", in connection with the failed coup.[embed:render:embedded:node:24390]

This week, Turkey's Constitutional Court did not rule on the legality of Kavala's pre-trial detention, but referred the matter to its General Council, which lawyers viewed as a delaying tactic.

Kavala "is facing more baseless, politically motivated charges in a prosecution which is part of a wider attempt by Turkish authorities to silence independent civil society," said Amnesty International's Europe director, Nils Muizniek.

The European Court of Human Rights has demanded his release. In 2018, Erdogan publicly accused Kavala of financing the Gezi protests with backing from U.S.-Hungarian investor and philanthropist George Soros. He has repeatedly called the protests an international conspiracy.

Kavala, chair of Anadolu Kultur, which also works with the Goethe Institute, blamed Erdogan's "intervention" for his rearrest.    (dpa)