Turkish Philanthropist Osman Kavala Sentenced to Life in Prison After Four-Year Detention

A Turkish court on April 25 sentenced philanthropist Osman Kavala to life imprisonment over claims that he helped conspire to overthrow the government.

The panel of three judges issued the verdict on a majority vote after finding Kavala, 64, guilty of “attempting to overthrow the government by force” in connection with the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Istanbul.

The judges, however, ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict Paris-born Kavala of a separate espionage charge.

Kavala appeared in court via video link from Silivri high security prison.

Kavala has been in prison since October 2017 on accusations of financing the protests after he paid for a folding table and some snacks for protesters.

The court also handed down 18-year prison sentences to seven activists accused of assisting Kavala — Mücella Yapıcı, Çiğdem Mater, Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi, and Tayfun Kahraman.

Amnesty International condemned the verdict as “a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions.”

“The court’s decision defies all logic. The prosecuting authorities have repeatedly failed to provide any evidence that substantiates the baseless charges of attempting to overthrow the government. This unjust verdict shows that the Gezi trial was only an attempt to silence independent voices,” Amnesty International Europe Director Nils Muižnieks said in a statement.

Kavala and his co-defendants are expected to appeal.

“It is evident that those who issued the indictment did not feel constrained by laws, considering that they will receive political support as they intended to prolong my detention at all costs,” Kavala said, according to The Guardian.

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