Osman Kavala, a Turkish businessman and activist who has been held in pre-trial detention since November 2017, has written an open letter from İstanbul’s Silivri prison, in which he said thousands of people wait for the preparation of their indictments under detention in uncertainty for months.

Detained upon his arrival to İstanbul’s Atatürk airport late on Oct 18, Kavala is accused of “attempting to abolish the constitutional order” and “attempting to remove the government of the Turkish Republic,” according to media.

Media also said Kavala has been under investigation in the same probe that led to the jailing of US consulate employee Metin Topuz over alleged ties to Turkey’s Gulen group on Oct 4, 2017.

Turkish government accuses the group of masterminding the July 15, 2016 coup attempt while the latter denies involvement.

Kavala was born in 1957 in Paris and studied economics at the University of Manchester. Upon his father’s passing in 1982, he took over the management of the Kavala Companies.

He was active in the establishment of a number of business organizations in Turkey, including Turkish-Polish and Turkish-Greek business councils and the Association of Tourism Investors.

What follows is the full text of Kavala’s letter:

Sixth month of my pre-trial detention in Silivri was completed on 1 May. We are waiting for the indictment.

As the presumption of innocence constitutes one of the fundamental elements of the right to a fair trial, the norms of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights rulings do not consider “strong suspicion” sufficient for pre-trial detention which is an extraordinary measure; they require the presence of clear and convincing evidence. Yet, the situation is different in our country. Once the prosecutor presents a crime description that requires a heavy sentence, the judge feels obligated to decide for a pre-trial detention. The decisions that are given in the absence of sufficient evidence also affect the process of the preparation of indictment. The effort to justify the decision of detention through collection of evidence after the detention takes place renders the entire process long and troublesome. As the preparation of the indictment lengthens out, the pre-trial detention period lengthens out. And, the cost of the suspect’s deprivation of their liberty with respect to the sentence they will receive passes beyond the remediable level.

The number of those waiting for the preparation of their indictments under detention in uncertainty for months, just like me, is not few. This situation indicates an imbalance in the fair trial mechanism. Unless the presumption of innocence is considered the fundamental component of the judicial process, this imbalance will prolong.

Osman Kavala, 14 May 2018

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