ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala was jailed for life without parole on Monday on charges of trying to overthrow the government by financing protests, in a case that Europe’s top court and Western powers say is politically motivated.
The verdict comes after a judicial process that began nearly three years ago and which has strained Ankara’s ties with its Western allies.
Here is a timeline of events before Monday’s verdict:
June 2013 – Protests against plans to build replica Ottoman barracks on Istanbul’s Gezi Park, located next to the central Taksim Square, spread nationwide. Eight young protesters and two police officers are killed and more than 5,000 people are injured in clashes with security forces.
April 2015 – A court acquits 26 defendants in a case related to the Gezi protests.
July 2016 – A group within the Turkish military seeks to topple President Tayyip Erdogan’s government in a coup attempt, which Ankara blames on followers of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who lives in the United States.
July 2016 – Ankara declares a state of emergency that lasts two years and begins a crackdown targeting Gulen’s network, as well as those accused of links to Kurdish and leftist militants. Tens of thousands people are jailed and civil servants are sacked.
October 2017 – Osman Kavala is detained at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport after returning from a meeting in the southeastern Gaziantep province. A court later formally arrests him and sends him to prison pending trial.
November 2018 – Turkish police expands investigation into Kavala, detaining and questioining several others and issuing arrest warrants.
November 2018 – George Soros’s Open Society Foundation says it will cease operations in Turkey, after Erdogan accuses him of links to Kavala and Gezi protests.
March 2019 – A court accepts an indictment against Kavala and 15 others over Gezi protests. They are charged with attempting to overthrow the government.
June 2019 – First hearing in Gezi trial.
October 2019 – Kavala’s arrest warrant over charge of attempting to overthrow constitutional order in relation to the coup attempt is lifted. He remains in jail over Gezi charges.
December 2019 – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) calls for Kavala’s release, saying his detention serves to silence him.
February 2020 – The Turkish court acquits Kavala and eight others. Kavala is re-arrested hours later for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order in relation to coup attempt.
February 2020 – Erdogan says Gezi protests were “heinous attack,” likens it to a military coup, and adds that courts tried to acquit Kavala with a “manouevre”.
March 2020 – Kavala’s arrest warrant for attempting to overthrow constitutional order is lifted again and another warrant is issued over charge of espionage, in a move critics said aimed to circumvent the ECHR ruling.
October 2020 – Turkish court accepts new indictment against Kavala and another defendant related to coup attempt.
December 2020 – First hearing in second case against Kavala. Turkey’s top court rules Kavala’s rights not violated.
January 2021 – Appeals court overturns acquittals in Gezi trial.
May 2021 – Re-trial of Kavala and those acquitted in Gezi trial begins after verdict is overturned. Separate charges against Kavala have also been merged.
October 2021 – The two cases are joined with the separate re-trial of fans of Besiktas soccer club, whose acquittals over Gezi protests were previously overturned.
October 2021 – Embassies of 10 of Turkey’s Western allies call for Kavala’s release in line with the ECHR ruling. Erdogan threatens to expel their ambassadors but later backs down.
October 2021 – Kavala says he will not attend hearings after Erdogan, referring to the calls for his release, says Western allies would not free “bandits, murderers and terrorists” in their countries.
December 2021 – Council of Europe notifies Turkey that it is preparing “infringement proceedings” after calling repeatedly for Kavala’s release. The process could lead to Ankara’s suspension from the body.
February 2022 – CoE of refers Kavala’s case to ECHR, which will rule whether Turkey failed to abide by its previous ruling. Erdogan says Turkey will not respect CoE if it does not respect Turkish courts.
March 2022 – Prosecutor calls for conviction of Kavala and Mucella Yapici for attempting to overthrow the government, as well as six others for aiding them.
March 2022 – Turkish court postpones hearing in Gezi trial until April 22, allowing defendants to prepare their final statements.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)