Turkish prosecutors demand life sentence for prominent businessman

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Turkish prosecutors are seeking an aggravated life sentence for prominent businessman Osman Kavala accused of orchestrating 2013 anti-government protests, according to a document submitted to the court by the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office.

Kavala, a philanthropist, is one of 16 people in the dock.

In jail since November 2017, he has become a symbol of what his supporters say is a crackdown on civil society.

Prosecutors, who wrapped up their opinion on the case, are seeking aggravated life sentences for Kavala and two other suspects, according to the document.

In December, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights ruled that Kavala’s rights were violated by more than two years in detention and criticized the charges against him.

But the court in Silivri on the outskirts of Istanbul ruled that he should stay in jail despite the ruling. The next hearing is due on February 18.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has linked Kavala to US billionaire George Soros, whose efforts to promote democracy around the world have made him a target for several authoritarian leaders.

Aggravated sentences, which replaced the death penalty in Turkey, carry harsher prison conditions than other sentences.

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