Letter by Osman Kavala at 6th Month of His Arrest

Osman Kavala, who has been in prison since November 2017, has sent a letter. Still pending his indictment, Kavala has written, “Unless the presumption of innocence is embraced as the key element of the judicial process from the beginning, this imbalance will persist.”

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Anadolu Kültür Executive Board Chair, rights advocate and businessperson Osman Kavala, who was arrested on November 1, 2017 and is still held in Silivri Prison, has sent a letter.

In introduction to his letter, which has been published on his website, Kavala has written, "On May 1, I had been in prison for six months. We are still waiting for the indictment."

The letter of Kavala continues as follows:

"Since the presumption of innocence is a key element of the right to a fair trial, the norms of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) do not consider 'strong doubt' to be sufficient for an arrest warrant, which is an extraordinary measure, and require that concrete evidence be sought.

"In our country, the situation is different. When the Prosecutor's Office refers to an offence which requires a heavy penalty, the judge feel, so to speak, obliged to give a prison sentence".

"The number of people waiting as I am is not low"

"These rulings issued without sufficient evidence also have an impact on the process of indictment preparation. The efforts to justify a prison sentence with the help of evidence collected after the arrest renders this process long and problematic.

"The longer it takes to prepare an indictment, the longer the period of arrest lasts. In that case, the cost of the time, when the suspects are deprived of their freedom in relation to the penalty to be imposed on them later on, reaches an irreparable level.

"The number of imprisoned people waiting for their indictments in uncertainty as I am is not low, which points to an imbalance in the mechanism of fair trial. Unless the presumption of innocence is embraced as the key element of the judicial process from the beginning, this imbalance will persist."

What happened?

Anadolu Kültür Executive Board Chair, human rights advocate and businessperson Osman Kavala was taken into custody in the evening hours on October 18 at İstanbul Atatürk Airport upon his return from a meeting of a project planned to be realized in cooperation with Goethe Institute in Antep.

He was targeted by some pro-government newspapers following his detention.

Speaking at the weekly group meeting of his party, President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to Kavala as the "Soros of Turkey", mentioning his name and said:

"Some try to deflect the truth by means of praises attributed to him such as 'He was a good citizen, a media member, an NGO representative'. The identity of this figure called 'Soros of Turkey' has been uncovered. That was his name that came up in Consulate General [investigation]. All connections have surfaced. And there is the same person behind the incidents in Taksim. You see those people again behind funds transfer to certain places. Who are you trying to fool?"

His detention also sparked criticism on international level.

US thinker and professor in linguistics, Noam Chomsky, United States Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert and European Parliament Rapporteur for Turkey Kati Piri denounced Kavala's detention and demanded that he be released immediately.

On October 31, a group of 35 academics, writers and researchers coming together under the guidance of the European Network on Political Group Analysis Jean-François Bayart, addressed an open letter to President Erdoğan for Kavala's release.

About Osman Kavala

Kavala was born in Paris in 1957. He graduated from Department of Economy at Manchester University.

He has been working as executive at Kavala Group since 1982.

He participated in the foundation of Turkey's one of the most prominent publishing houses, İletişim Publications, with Murat Belge.

He served as member of administrative boards of business institutions and NGOs such as Turkey-Poland Business Council, Turkey-Greece Business Council, and Center For Democracy in Southeast Europe.

Kavala is a member of Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) Administrative Board, Open Society Institute Consulting Board, and supporter of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, History Foundation and Diyarbakır Culture House. (PT/SD)

İstanbul - BIA News Desk

15 May 2018, Tuesday