Istanbul prosecutors have issued a new arrest warrant for Osman Kavala, shortly after he was acquitted in the trial pertaining to the 2013 Istanbul protests in Gezi Park, the official Anadolu news agency reported.
It happened just hours after a court acquitted him on separate, terrorism-related charges relating to the massive 2013 anti-government protests in Gezi Park. The court had ordered his release from jail after 840 days in pre-trial detention.
The Istanbul prosecutor’s office said in a statement that it planned to appeal Tuesday’s verdict of a panel of judges finding Kavala not guilty and setting him free. Prosecutors also ordered Kavala to be kept in jail while he is investigated in the separate case, according to The Associated Press.
DW correspondent Julia Hahn in Instanbul tweeted Kavala could be detained for up to 12 days “and then — depending on the outcome — might be sent back to Silivri jail in Istanbul.” Hanh said the move was “an attempt by the authorities to keep Kavala behind bars, no matter what critics say.”
Alleged coup ties
The 65-year-old is being probed for an attempted overthrow of the Turkish constitutional order through alleged connections to the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.
The Turkish government blames US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his FETO movement for the uprising. Ankara considers FETO a terrorist organization and has arrested thousands of people with alleged ties to both it and Gulen, who was also a former ally of Erdogan.
Years after the failed coup by a faction in the military, Turkish authorities continue to target people with suspected connections to Gulen.
Kavala supporters left stunned
More than 100 supporters, including lawmakers, Kavali’s wife and other defendants, anxiously waited for Kavali’s release at a roadside restaurant near the maximum security Silivri prison complex where he was held, only to be left shocked by the latest news.
Earlier Tuesday, eight other activists had also been acquitted after they had been charged with organizing the anti-government protests in 2013.
It is not the first time prosecutors in Turkey have overturned court decisions. Similar detention orders have also happened in the case of jailed writers.
Kavala, a former entrepreneur who founded Anadolu Kultur, a non-profit that focuses on cultural and artistic projects promoting peace and dialogue, was arrested in November 2017, four years after the Gezi Park protests.
The European Court of Human Rights called for his immediate release in December, saying Kavala’s time in custody served “the ulterior purpose of reducing him to silence” with a “chilling effect on civil society.”
The fresh arrest warrant for Kavala came not long after Istanbul’s new high-profile Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu gave his support to the defendants.
“The acquittal of all the defendants in the Gezi Park trial is a true source of joy, and restores trust in the Turkish judicial system. I salute all those who stand to defend our city’s history, culture and nature,” he tweeted.
Lawyer Murat Boduroglu, a trial observer, told German news agency dpa that Kavala would likely be taken to a police station at night and then presented before a judge in the next few days.