Turkish court upholds philanthropist's life sentence

Turkish court upholds philanthropist's life sentence
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A court in Istanbul approved the life sentence given to Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala on the charge of overthrowing the government

A Turkish appellate court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala who was sentenced to life in jail without parole in April on the charge of trying to topple the government by financing an uprising in 2013.

Seven others were jailed for 18 years each for aiding the attempt to overthrow the government of then-prime minister Erdogan during “Gezi rallies,” which started as an eco-friendly resistance in Istanbul but soon turned out to be an all out anti-government protests across Turkey.

The defence can still appeal the case in Turkey's Supreme Court.

Kavala's years-long trial prompted a spat between Turkey and the west, as Kavala languished in prison even before conviction. The European Court of Human Rights ordered his release in 2019.

Diplomats from 10 different western countries were almost expelled from Turkey last year following their criticism of his treatment. They backed down after Erdogan alleged foreign meddling in Turkey’s affairs, who portrayed Kavala as a leftist agent of the Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros who was using foreign money to try and overthrow the state.

Kavala was first charged with funding the wave of 2013 protests that some analysts view as the genesis of Erdogan's more authoritarian posture in the latter half of his two-decade rule.

A court acquitted and released him in February 2020 but then another court accused him of being involved in a failed 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan in which more than 250 died in Istanbul and Ankara.

Kavala ultimately ended up facing both sets of charges, and the court convicted him of the same set of charges of which he had been cleared in 2020.