ANKARA: Judge, Prosecutor Clash Over Dink Case Verdict

JUDGE, PROSECUTOR CLASH OVER DINK CASE VERDICT

Today’s Zaman
Jan 19 2012
Turkey

The prosecutor in a court case concerning the 2007 killing of prominent
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink slammed the judge for failing to
deliver a fair decision amid growing outrage over a trial many feel has
failed to shed light on alleged official negligence or even collusion.

Editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos and Turkey’s
best-known Armenian voice, Dink was shot in broad daylight in a busy
Ä°stanbul street as he left his office on Jan. 19, 2007.

The judge presiding over the 14th Ä°stanbul High Criminal Court
sentenced Yasin Hayal to life imprisonment and acquitted 19 defendants
charged with being part of a terrorist group.

A juvenile court sentenced Dink’s assassin, Ogun Samast, to 22 years,
10 months in jail last July. He was 17 when he committed the murder.

Prosecutor Hikmet Usta said in his two-page long petition as part
of his appeal of Wednesday’s decision that there was sufficient
evidence to establish the murder was the result of efforts by an
organized criminal group. The prosecutor’s comments came in response
to presiding judge Rustem Eryılmaz’s earlier remarks published in
Vatan daily Thursday where the judge commented that while he personally
cannot deny the murder was well-organized, the evidence submitted to
the court was not sufficient to issue such a ruling.

“According to the evidence, there is no [illegal] organization
[involvement in the murder]. But we cannot say there is no organization
involved in the case,” Eryılmaz said.

In his petition, Usta said he has objected to many verdicts in
his nearly 20 years of experience and acknowledged that judges are
independent in delivering decisions. However, he dismissed the judge’s
remarks to Vatan that while there was a criminal network involved,
there is no evidence for this.

Eryılmaz told the Vatan daily that there must be some instigators, but
that in order to accept this as legal fact, convincing evidence must
be presented. “Since expectations were high in this case, this ruling
pleased nobody. If you ask me whether I was personally satisfied,
I would say no since I believe there are more instigators. But this
is the best ruling that can be issued in accordance with the evidence
in the case file,” he said.

The prosecutor added in his petition that the judge ruled in violation
of the law for failing to establish that the Dink murder was part
of an organized crime and acquitting the rest of the suspects. The
prosecutor claimed in his petition that the fact that the judge left
out one of the suspects during his final verdict is a clear indication
that the indictment was not thoroughly examined.

It emerged on Wednesday that when announcing its final ruling the court
left out the verdict of CoÅ~_kun Ä°gci, one of the 18 suspects in the
case. Sources said this person was accidentally left out of the final
verdict and that the judges will issue a separate ruling for Ä°gci.

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