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Türkiye Slams CoE for Awarding Convict With Human Rights Prize

Türkiye condemned the Council of Europe for awarding Osman Kavala, a convicted criminal, with its highest rights prize Monday.

In a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç said it was unacceptable for the CoE to award a “so-called” human rights prize to a convict, whose verdict of conviction was approved by one of Türkiye’s top courts.

“Promoting violence, inciting violence cannot be seen as a right or freedom in democratic countries governed by the rule of law,” Tunç said, adding that Kavala was one of the perpetrators of the Gezi riots, which resulted in loss of lives and damage of properties.

The justice minister also criticized the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for ignoring decisions made by the independent Turkish judiciary and hosting an award ceremony hosted by a nongovernmental organization (NGO). He continued by saying that the Republic of Türkiye is governed by the rule of law and everybody needs to respect decisions made by the independent judiciary.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry also criticized the CoE for awarding Kavala.

“It is unacceptable that the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Award was given to a person who has a final conviction by the judiciary in our country,” the ministry said in a statement.

Last month, Türkiye’s Supreme Court of Appeals, or Yargıtay, upheld the ruling in the Gezi Park protests case, which sentenced jailed businessperson Osman Kavala to life in prison.

Kavala, 64, has been in jail for over five years and denies the charges that he and 15 others faced over the Gezi Park protests, which began as small demonstrations in Istanbul and transformed into violent nationwide riots, which left eight protesters and a police officer dead.

He was acquitted of all charges in February 2020, before an appeals court overturned this verdict.

He was also accused of involvement in the 2016 defeated coup orchestrated by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and was remanded in custody on espionage charges.

Kavala was first arrested on criminal charges related to the 2013 Gezi events, a small number of demonstrations in Istanbul that later transformed into nationwide protests that left eight protesters and a police officer dead. The businessperson was later remanded in custody by an Istanbul court as part of a probe into the 2016 defeated coup attempt, with prosecutors accusing him of spying.

The indictment against Kavala and the 15 other defendants accused the suspects of financing and coordinating the actions and protests in 2013 while claiming that they had also been involved in and directed aspects of an uprising since 2011.

Source : Daily Sabah