Turk Gets Life Term For Role In Journalist Killing


The Associated Press
January 17, 2012 Tuesday 05:00 PM GMT

A Turkish court on Tuesday sentenced a man to life in prison for
masterminding the killing of an ethnic Armenian journalist hated by
hardline nationalists, but acquitted all 19 suspects of charges of
acting under a terrorist organization’s orders.

The verdict deeply disappointed the lawyers and family of Hrant Dink,
who was gunned down outside of his office five years ago. Fethiye
Cetin, a lawyer for the Dink family, said the trial failed to shed
light on “the darkness” alleged connections between the suspects and
some state officials.

The case has been widely seen as a test of whether the judiciary can
fully investigate possible negligence by authorities, who allegedly
knew about plots to kill the journalist.

It also highlights Turkey’s uneasy relationship with its ethnic and
religious minorities, which include at least 60,000 Armenian Christians
in a mostly Muslim nation of more than 70 million.

After the decision, hundreds of activists began marching toward
the scene where Dink was gunned down outside his Agos newspaper
and promised to gather again at the spot of his murder on Thursday,
the fifth anniversary of the Jan. 19 killing.

“This case is not over … for us this case is just starting,” said
Cetin, vowing to appeal the verdict and likening the trial process to a

A panel of judges found Yasin Hayal guilty of instigating Dink’s
killing, and gave him the life term despite a plea by a prosecutor that
the court should sentence seven of the suspects to life in prison,
including Erhan Tuncel who until now has been portrayed as another
key instigator.

The court, however, sentenced Tuncel to 10 1/2 years in prison for
a separate crime, his role in a bombing a McDonald’s restaurant in
2004 in Black Sea port city of Trabzon and ordered his release from
prison since he already completed his term while awaiting a verdict.

Dink had angered nationalists and had been prosecuted under Turkish
law for describing the mass killings of Armenians in the early 20th
century as genocide. Turkey denies the deaths constituted genocide,
insisting those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

Gunman Ogun Samast was sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison in
July for “premeditated murder” by a separate, juvenile court. Samast
was allegedly connected to Hayal but the court decision suggested
the suspects who know each other were not acting as a gang and that
Samast carried out the assassination alone under orders from Hayal.

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