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Turkish court sentences Erdogan critic to life in prison

A journalist stands in front of a poster featuring an image of jailed businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, during a press conference held by his lawyers in Istanbul, on October 31, 2018. (Ozan Kose/AFP/File)
A journalist stands in front of a poster featuring an image of jailed businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, during a press conference held by his lawyers in Istanbul, on October 31, 2018. (Ozan Kose/AFP/File)

ISTANBUL, Turkey — A Turkish court has sentenced leading intellectual and rights campaigner Osman Kavala to life in jail on highly controversial coup plot charges that had already seen him locked up without a conviction for more than four years.

The panel of three judges also sentenced seven other defendants to 18 years in jail each, on charges of aiding the attempt to topple the government.

The judgement is almost certain to attract a chorus of condemnation from Turkey’s main allies in the NATO defense alliance.

The court’s ruling drew boos from a packed audience that included Western diplomats who have been trying to stress the importance of rights issues and judicial independence in their relations with Ankara.

Emma Sinclair-Webb of Human Rights Watch calls it “the worst possible outcome to this show trial.”

“Today, we have witnessed a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions,” Amnesty International’s Europe director Nils Muiznieks adds.

Kavala’s attorneys immediately vow to appeal.

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