Middle East

Philanthropist Kavala says 'no possibility' of a fair trial in Turkey

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Lawyers and supporters of the Gezi solidarity group gather in front of the Justice Palace, the Caglayan Courthouse, as a Turkish court began the re-trial of philanthropist Osman Kavala and 15 others over their role in nationwide protests in 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey, May 21, 2021. REUTERS/Dilara Senkaya/File Photo

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ISTANBUL, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Jailed philanthropist Osman Kavala said on Friday that it will be "meaningless" for him to attend his trial as a fair hearing is impossible given comments made about him by President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday.

Erdogan in comments made to local media outlets on Thursday criticized ambassadors of Western allies for their call for Kavala's release. He was cited as saying that they would not release "bandits, murderers and terrorists" in their own countries.

"Since there is no possibility of a fair trial under these circumstances, I believe participating in hearings and delivering my defence will be meaningless from now on," Kavala said in a written statement.

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Kavala was acquitted in 2020 of charges related to nationwide protests in 2013 but the ruling was overturned this year and combined with charges in another case related to a coup attempt in 2016.

Kavala described Erdogan's statement as humiliating and defaming and said it would influence the trial directly while it continues.

Erdogan said the judiciary in Turkey is independent.

Embassies of Turkey's Western allies, including the United States and Germany, called on Monday for the "urgent release" of Kavala.

The foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors on Tuesday for what it said was an "irresponsible" statement calling for a just and speedy resolution to Kavala's case. He has been in prison since late 2017 without being convicted.

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Reporting by Daren Butler and Ali Kucukgocmen Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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