After 819 days in pretrial detention, Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala was sent back to prison Tuesday on terrorism charges despite a Dec. 10 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights calling for his immediate release.
The decision came after a tense court hearing in Silivri, in which about 50 defense lawyers staged a mass walkout in protest of the judges’ refusal to recuse themselves after allegations of legal misconduct.
Observers said the proceedings were evidence Turkish courts lacked independence and lengthy pretrial detentions continue to be used to punish human rights defenders, journalists and political dissidents.
“It’s shambolic. It’s farcical. It would be funny if it wasn’t this tragic,” Milena Buyum, a Turkey campaigner for Amnesty International, told Al-Monitor after attending the trial.
She added, “The charge he’s facing carries life imprisonment without parole and you’d expect the prosecution to be rigorous and to present evidence that sustains that allegation and they have failed to do so in the indictment and they have failed to do so in all the hearings.”
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