Top Turkey activist awaits fate in new hearing
Turkey's leading activist Osman Kavala, who at the weekend marked his 1,600th day in prison without conviction, will appear in court Monday in a case that has strained Ankara's ties with the West.
Turkey has kept Kavala in prison since 2017 in a huge prison complex on the outskirts of Istanbul in defiance of a European Court of Human Rights ruling to release him.
Last month, the Council of Europe (COE) launched rare disciplinary action against Turkey over the case, which Ankara denounced as interference.
An Istanbul court asked Kavala to be physically present at the hearing on Monday, a Turkish judicial source told AFP, where a panel of three judges could deliver a final verdict.
Erdogan has openly targeted Kavala and accused him of being an agent of George Soros, a billionaire financier and pro-democracy campaigner.
The case - closely monitored by the West - has become a symbol of a sweeping crackdown on government opponents after the botched coup.
Kavala said last October he would not defend himself in court because he lost faith in a fair trial after his case sparked a diplomatic spat.
Erdogan nearly expelled 10 Western countries' envoys including the United States and major European powers after they made an appeal for Kavala's release last October.
But the new hearing comes as Erdogan attempts to salvage battered ties with the European Union in recent months, a bid which intensified after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Kavala previously attended hearings via a video link from prison.
In his final opinion on March 4, the prosecutor requested that Kavala be found guilty of "attempting to overthrow" Erdogan's government.
If convicted, Kavala faces an aggravated life sentence, which has tougher terms of detention.
Kavala denies the claims and has branded the charges in the indictment as "politically motivated".
Kavala is on trial with 16 other defendants, who are in the dock over the 2013 protests after the court last month separated the dossier from another case involving a football fan group on the same charges.
Human rights organisations have also criticised the case.
"Despite committing no internationally recognised crime, he remains arbitrarily detained on baseless charges in a facility far away from his family," said Nils Muiznieks, Amnesty International's Europe director.
Muiznieks accused the prosecutors of seeking but failing "to conjure a crime out of thin air".
"On the contrary, each tortuous twist in this politically motivated prosecution has further exposed the hollowness of the Turkish justice system," he added in a statement ahead of the hearing.
Turkey faces infringement proceedings by the COE, the second time the body has taken such action, the first occasion in 2017 against Azerbaijan over its refusal to release a dissident.