Kavala is released from custody: Court acquits all Gezi defendants

              Tuesday, February 18, 2020

              It has been six years since protests critical of the government spread across Turkey from Istanbul's Gezi Park. Numerous activists are arrested and charged with this, and the public prosecutor's office demands life sentences. But now all of the accused are surprisingly acquitted.
              A good six years after the government-critical Gezi protests in Turkey, the intellectual Osman Kavala and other accused were surprisingly cleared of all allegations. According to observers, the judges at the Silivri maximum security prison also ordered Kavala to be released, who has been in custody for more than two years. The prosecutor had asked for life imprisonment in difficult conditions because of an attempted coup for Kavala, the architect Mücella Yapici and Yigit Aksakoglu – an expert in early childhood development. He demanded long prison terms for other defendants. The background to the indictment was the Gezi protests in summer 2013. At that time, activists had initially demonstrated against the development of the Gezi Park in the center of Istanbul. The action spread to nationwide demonstrations against the authoritarian policies of the then Prime Minister and today's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The brutally put down the Gezi protests. A total of 16 activists were indicted in the so-called Gezi trial, including human rights defenders, lawyers, cultural workers and architects. Kavala, who works with numerous German institutions, was arrested in November 2017. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) requested Kavala's release in December. However, Turkey did not initially implement the judgment. The trial began in June 2019. A judgment in the trial against German human rights activist Peter Steudtner and ten other defendants is also expected in Istanbul today.

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