A Turkish court on Wednesday handed prison sentences to nine suspects in relation to the 2007 assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, reported the Istanbul-based Agos newspaper.
Dink’s assassination trial is ongoing, while the verdict for nine suspects was brought forward as they were subject to statute of limitations.
Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), took to Twitter to announce the sentencing and declare that Dink’s murder case is far from closed, until the real perpetrators are put behind bars.
Since Dink’s assassination, it has been speculated that Turkey’s infamous deep state or the Turkish government itself had a role in ordering the killing, because of the journalist’s outspoken position on advancing democracy domestically, as well as condemning the Armenian Genocide.
“Those convicted in Hrant Dink’s case are the perpetrators of the murder. As friends of Hrant we have been saying for 12 years, ‘Let those who ordered the killing be punished.’ But they are being defended for 12 years. Dink’s murder case will not close unless we want it,” Paylan said in a Twitter post.
Erhan Tuncel, a former informant and the suspected mastermind of the Dink murder, was sentenced to 99 years and six months in prison for taking part in Dink’s assassination, being a member of an armed group, and his part in a bomb blast at a restaurant in the Black Sea coastal province of Trabzon. Tuncel was arrested at court.
Another defendant, Yasin Hayal, who previously received a life sentence for his part in the assassination, was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison over forming and leading an armed group.
The court sentenced assassin Ogün Samast, a native of Trabzon who was 16-years-old at the time of the assassination, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for membership to an armed group. Samast is serving a 22 years and 10-month sentence for Dink’s murder.
Four other suspects were sentenced to less than two-years in prison for their role in the murder, while two defendants, including Hayal’s brother Osman Hayal, were acquitted.