ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turkish court on Thursday ruled to remand in jail prominent businessman and rights activist Osman Kavala, who is accused of trying to overthrow the government by organising protests six years ago, one of his lawyers said.
The next hearing of the case was scheduled for October 8-9, lawyer Ilkan Koyuncu said. On Thursday, the court heard defence statements from Kavala and the lawyers for the defendants.
The trial, which received widespread criticism from Ankara’s Western allies, began in June against a backdrop of concerns about growing authoritarianism in Turkey, where tens of thousands have been arrested in a crackdown on dissent since a failed military coup targeting Erdogan in 2016.
The Gezi demonstrations in the summer of 2013 started as a protest against the redevelopment of a park in Istanbul, a city with limited green space, and quickly spread across the country.
Then-Prime Minister Erdogan at the time dismissed the idea that the protests were environmentally motivated, saying they aimed to topple his government. The defendants deny the charges against them.
The indictment calls for life sentences without parole for the Kavala and 15 other defendants including civil society figures, writers and actors, who are accused of attempting to overthrow the government and financing the protests among other charges.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Ece Toksabay; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun)