Ankara: Journalist Gets Prison Sentence For Praising Dink Murder


Today’s Zaman, Turkey
Dec 10 2012

A journalist in Samsun was sentenced to a one year and 11-month prison
term for praising a crime and inciting hatred in a newspaper article
where he supported the murder of Hrant Dink.

Hrant Dink, the Armenian-Turkish journalist, was shot dead outside the
Agos newspaper office in Å~^iÅ~_li on Jan. 19, 2007. In the ensuing
investigation the police arrested the gunman, Ogun Samast, and his
accomplice, Yasin Hayal. Samast was ultimately sentenced to 22 years
and ten months imprisonment on charges of “premeditated murder” and
“unlicensed possession of weapons,” and Hayal was found guilty of
soliciting Dink’s murder — giving Samast the idea and supplying him
with a weapon and money — and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Journalist Okan BaÅ~_ praised Samast and Dink’s killing in a column he
wrote for Statuko, a bimonthly magazine in Samsun. BaÅ~_ was sentenced
to one year and three months in prison for inciting hatred under
Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). In his column titled
“Gentlemen, what harm have the nationalists done to you?” BaÅ~_,
managing editor of the magazine, wrote: “You know, a young man like
Ogun Samast has been condemned to serve a heavy penalty for shooting
Hrant, who said that ‘A Turk’s blood is filthy’. He did a good thing,
didn’t he?”

BaÅ~_ continued in his column: “If the state does not do what it
needs to do, and tolerates the foreigner who says “Turkish blood is
filthy,” if the state runs over the principles of nationalism trying
to ingratiate itself with the Armenians, then people will rise up
and do something about it. It doesn’t mean a thing to put this man
on a trial.”

The “Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism!” group filed a lawsuit against
BaÅ~_, and a criminal complaint was issued for offenses including
praising the crime and the criminal, provoking hatred and enmity,
and incitement to commit a crime, as well as insulting the memory of
a deceased person.

The trial concluded in October, and Samsun Second Criminal Court Judge
Murat Sarıyıldız recently announced the sentence of one year and 11
months in total; 15 months according to the Article 215 of the TCK for
“praising the crime and the criminal,” and eight months according to
Article 216 for “provoking hatred.” The punishment has been postponed
for five years.

Hakan Bakırcıoglu, an attorney for the Dink family, commented that
the verdict was fair and added, “All the things that were written
against Dink created an atmosphere of a lynch mob that led to his
eventual murder. Punishing such behavior will prevent other similar

Attorney Bakırcıoglu added that this particular case was one of
the few in which Article 216 was properly applied.