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Turkey’s Erdogan says ECHR ruling on jailed philanthropist Kavala no longer applies – Metro US

Turkey’s Erdogan says ECHR ruling on jailed philanthropist Kavala no longer applies

Turkish philanthropist Kavala speaks during an event in an undated
Turkish philanthropist Kavala speaks during an event in an undated handout photograph

By Ali Kucukgocmen

ISTANBUL (Reuters) -Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that a ruling by Europe’s top court for the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala no longer applied after he was jailed for life this week over anti-government protests held in 2013.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and Ankara’s Western allies had called for an end to Kavala’s detention, saying the case was politically motivated.

“The ECHR has no job here anymore… because he was convicted. The ECHR will look at it but say he was convicted and take this issue off the table,” Erdogan told reporters at an Istanbul airport before leaving on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

After being detained without a conviction for 4-1/2 years, Kavala was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Monday for organising and financing nationwide protests in 2013.

Seven others were handed sentences of 18 years. All denied the charges. They say the protests erupted spontaneously and were protected by constitutional rights, denying that they had organised them.

Opposition parties have vowed to overturn the jail sentences if they win power at elections next year.

‘BLACKMAIL’

The ECHR is the best known body of the Council of Europe (CoE) rights watchdog from which Turkey could now be suspended due to Kavala’s continued imprisonment.

Critics say Turkish courts are under the influence of Erdogan and his AK Party, claims they deny.

“Our judiciary has proved their independence by not bowing down to blackmail by those outside Turkey and their spokespeople,” Erdogan said on Wednesday.

Rights activists say the court rushed to a verdict to circumvent the ECHR ruling after the CoE launched “infringement proceedings” against Ankara.

The ECHR will decide whether Turkey failed to abide by its ruling as the next step in the process.

Benan Molu, a human rights lawyer, said the ECHR ruling meant Kavala could not be convicted based on the evidence in the file, given that no new evidence was added since the time of the application.

“For the ECHR ruling to be implemented and the violation to be fully lifted for the Council of Europe, all the negative impacts of the detention need to removed,” she said.

“Ideas such as ‘we handed down the sentence, this court ruling does not concern us anymore’ would not be accepted in the context of international law,” Molu said, adding that the ruling could be appealed in various higher courts.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Gareth Jones)

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