A Turkish court on Monday sentenced leading Turkish civil rights activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala to life in prison without parole, finding him guilty of attempting to overthrow the government with mass protests in 2013. Western governments and rights groups strongly criticised the ruling, with one calling it “a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions.”
The court in Istanbul also sentenced seven other defendants, including 71-year-old architect Mucella Yapici, to 18 years in prison each for “aiding” the attempt. It ordered that the activists, who were not in custody, be immediately arrested, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The verdict, which is likely to hurt Turkey’s ties with Western nations, comes as Europe’s top human rights body, the Council of Europe, launched infringement procedures against Turkey for refusing to abide by a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which in 2019 called for Kavala’s release because his rights had been violated.
Kavala, 64, has been jailed in Silivri prison, on the outskirts of Istanbul, since he was detained Oct. 18, 2017, accused of financing the protests. He and other defendants denied all the accusations and are expected to appeal the verdicts.