Kavala says irregularities become norm in Turkish judiciary

Throwing serious allegations without evidence, searching for evidence after imprisonment and prolonged detentions have become the norm, Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala said in an op-ed published by the New York Times on Friday.

"My Kafkaesque experience of the last two years has taught me to better appreciate the importance of an independent judiciary, one that operates in full conformity with universal norms of justice," Kavala said.

Kavala, along with 15 leading civil society figures, are facing charges of attempting to overthrow the government via the nation-wide Gezi Park protests of 2013.

The government says human rights activist Kavala, the only suspect of the case who remains in prison, was the chief conspirator behind the protests, and that he used his non-profit arts and culture organisation Anadolu Kültür to sponsor sedition.

Hundreds of thousands of people participated in demonstrations across almost all of Turkey’s provinces. And, prosecutors have called for life sentences for the 16 defendants in the case that began six years after the protests amid 2016 failed coup attempt.

"There was a major change in the attitude of the government to the Gezi Park protests, and in the news and opinion coverage by media organizations close to Mr. Erdogan, after the coup attempt of July 2016 initiated by Gulenist officers — the followers of the shadowy cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania — in the Turkish army," Kavala said.

In recent years for Turkish authorities has been undermining the rule of law, particularly due to practices during a two-year emergency rule declared after a coup attempt in 2016, Kavala said.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s court system is weighed down by the combined weakness of inexperienced judges and the heavy hand of government control, Kavala said, noting that thousands of judges have been purged in the aftermath of a failed 2016 coup attempt, replaced by the ones under influence of politicians, many of whom are barely out of college.