Businessperson and rights defender Osman Kavala, the only arrested defendant of the Gezi trial, has been been behind bars for 1,540 days as of today (January 18). At the hearing of the Gezi trial yesterday, he was not released by the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court.
Eyes have now turned to the Council of Europe (CoE). Given that Kavala has not been released again despite the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the CoE is poised to bring infringement proceedings against Turkey. The critical day is February 2, 2022.
The Committee of Minister of the Council of Europe gave Turkey time until January 19, 2022 to make defense. The Committee of Ministers is awaiting Turkey to officially declare whether it has fulfilled its obligations arising from the European Convention on Human Rights or not.
The response of Turkey will be on the agenda of the Committee meeting on February 2. However, the critical point here is whether Osman Kavala will be released, rather surprisingly, by then.
Given that the next hearing of the Gezi trial will be held on February 21, a ruling to be given before this date may be considered surprising.
In the event that Osman Kavala is not released, the Committee of Ministers will apply to the ECtHR. If the ECtHR rules that the infringement proceedings shall be brought against Turkey, possible infringement proceedings against Turkey will start to be discussed.
All in all, Turkey may be faced with infringement proceedings ranging from the suspension of its right to vote or membership of the Council of Eurupe to the termination of its membership over its failure to implement the ECtHR ruling of rights violation and release for Osman Kavala.
Turkey may say 'it is a different case'
The time granted to Turkey to present its statement of defense to the Committee of Ministers expires tomorrow (January 19).
In its defense, Turkey may argue that the ECtHR gave a ruling of rights violation for Kavala in the related case and a ruling of release was handed down for him, but he is now arrested as part of another case.
Turkey made similar statements before. However, in its ruling of "immediate release", the ECtHR has concluded that Osman Kavala is arrested "with political motives". For this reason, the ECtHR ruling does not apply to a single case, but to Kavala's imprisonment as a whole.
Besides, this argument frequently put forward by Turkey is not found credible. It is commented that there is an attempt to circumvent the ECtHR ruling by putting Kavala on trial again on the same charges.
The only example: Azerbaijan
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe initiated infringement proceedings only in one case, namely the case of Ilgar Mammadov, known for his dissenting articles, against Azerbaijan.
Mammadov was released on probation in August 2018 and the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan, in a ruling in March 2019, reduced the sentence of Mammadov and enabled him to be completely free.
Infringement proceedings have been suspended afterwards.
Only two countries voted in favor of Turkey
At the vote taken at the Council of Europe on December 2 regarding the initiation of infringement proceedings against Turkey, 35 of 47 countries voted in favor of bringing the proceedings against Turkey.
Only Azerbaijan and Hungary backed Turkey while Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia, Romania, Albania and Moldova abstained from voting. Poland and Bosnia Herzegovina did not participate in the vote.