Former Justice and Development Party (AKP) politicians and current opposition party leaders Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ali Babacan have taken steps to distance themselves from the now-concluded Gezi Park trial, claiming that they should never have been listed as co-plaintiffs in the court documents.
The Gezi Park trial concerned the prosecution of eight defendants including prominent businessman and civil society leader Osman Kavala due to their alleged role in anti-government protests of 2013 against government plans to demolish Gezi Park in the Taksim neighborhood of İstanbul.
An İstanbul court on April 25 sentenced Kavala, who had been behind bars without a conviction for over four years, to aggravated life on charges of “attempting to topple the government,” while sentencing seven other defendants to 18 years each on charges of aiding the attempt.
The ruling sparked international condemnation as well as protests across Turkey for being politically motivated.
The lawyer for Gelecek (Future) Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu has petitioned the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court, which heard the Gezi Park trial, saying his client never filed any complaints against any of the defendants. The lawyer asked the court to establish that Davutoğlu has never been a co-plaintiff in the trial.
Davutoğlu was the country’s foreign minister at the time and labelled Gezi Park protestors as “provocateurs” and said no country would allow provocateurs to stage such protests.
“If we allow them today, there will be no trace of democracy left in Turkey tomorrow,” Davutoğlu said at the time.
In a similar move, Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan, a former AKP deputy prime minister and finance minister who spoke to Fox TV on Monday, said the prosecutor’s office and the court hearing the Gezi Park trial as well as the entire country should know that he suffered no damage personally due to the Gezi Park protests and had not filed any criminal complaints against anyone related to the protests.
Babacan said all the ministers of the time were included as co-plaintiffs in the indictment by the prosecutor’s office, although the ministers did not file any complaints against the defendants.
He said critics were unjust in their criticism of him and Davutoğlu for being co-plaintiffs in a politically motivated trial.
“… We did not file any complaints [against the Gezi Park trial defendants], so we cannot withdraw any complaint that we did not file,” said Babacan.
The protests in 2013 erupted over government plans to demolish Gezi Park in Taksim. They quickly turned into mass anti-government demonstrations that were violently suppressed by the government, leading to the death of 11 protestors due to the use of disproportionate force by the police.
Babacan and Davutoğlu parted ways with the AKP and established their rival parties in 2020 and 2019, respectively.