Turkish Press: Prosecutors seek higher sentences for defendants in retrial of Hrant Dink case

Duvar, Turkey
Nov 2 2023
 02.11.2023 16:00

Duvar English

The first hearing for the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's murder case retrial took place on Nov. 1. The Court of Cassation as the top Turkish court of appeals had reversed the judgment as it found some defendants’ sentencing inadequate.

The court also accepted the Turkish Presidency’s request to participate in the proceedings as the latter argued that it suffer from the “violation of the constitution."

Lawyers of the defendants, the Dink family, and the Turkish Presidency were present at the hearing. Seven defendants tried in custody joined the hearing through video call. 

The defendants requested for the court to dismiss the Court of Cassation's reversal of judgment.

One of the defendants Yavuz Karakaya, an ex-sergeant of the Turkish military, took the stand. He stated, “I was not tried fairly and justly. I was made to be the scapegoat of this case. There is no eyewitness, videotape, or report revealing my alleged complicity.”

“I was released pending trial, but somehow I was suddenly sentenced to the highest degree and arrested. I do not know which evidence was entered into the file to necessitate my arrest. I was denounced guilty years later, and the evidence was backtracked. Evidence against me was fabricated,” Karakaya added and demanded his release. 

The Dink family’s lawyer stated that they would remain indifferent to the Court of Cassation’s retrial decision, as it has remained indifferent to the 131-page evidence folder submitted by the family. 

The court decided to proceed with the reversal and ruled for the defendants' continued arrest. The hearing was postponed to Jan. 10, 2024. 

Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, editor-in-chief of Agos Newspaper, was shot dead on Jan. 19, 2007, in Istanbul by then-17-year-old Ogün Samast. 

Samast was caught on his way back to his hometown Trabzon after the murder. He was tried in the juvenile court and sentenced to 22 years and 10 months in prison.

An Istanbul court ruled in March 2021 that the murder was carried out in line with the goals of the Gülen network, which the Turkish authorities refer to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

From the 78 people involved in the murder case, 37 public officials accused of various offenses, including not intervening despite knowing about the murder plan, were acquitted. 26 defendants were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, including four life sentences and two aggravated life sentences. 

The fugitive suspects in the case include Fethullah Gülen, former prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, and Ekrem Dumanlı, former editor of Gülenist newspaper Zaman. 


Armenian authorities thwart terror plot, five suspects arrested

 14:27, 2 November 2023

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 2, ARMENPRESS. 5 suspects have been arrested in Armenia for allegedly plotting a terror attack, the National Security Service (NSS) has announced. 

The five suspects, together with unidentified accomplices plotted a bombing attack, seizure of government buildings and murder, the NSS said in a statement.

The goal of the would-be terrorists was to dismantle the activities of government bodies.

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Authorities raided the apartments of the suspects and found firearms and ammunition, a drone and two gas cylinders supposedly intended as attachment, body armor, military fatigues, handcuffs, surveillance devices, computers, mobile phones, communication devices, ten unused SIM cards of Armenian and Russian communications operators and documents outlining the preparations of the terror attack and other items.

The suspects had even come up with a codename of their plot – Northern Abscission.

The suspects had opened Ukrainian and Moldovan telegram channels under the name of National Salvation Rebellion intended for “involving broader segments” in the terror attacks.

The suspects had also acquired medical supplies and planned to move their families to Georgia before the attack.

The terror suspects planned detailed moves for ambushing, surveilling and retreating from buildings. They even planned to distribute flyers and other procedures to involve accomplices and coordinate their actions.

Authorities are working to identify other accomplices of the suspects.

Many forcibly displaced persons of NK are applying for Armenian citizenship

 15:47, 2 November 2023

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 2, ARMENPRESS. Large numbers of forcibly displaced persons of Nagorno-Karabakh are applying for Armenian citizenship, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said.

“We were certainly expecting this process,” Pashinyan said at the November 2 Cabinet meeting.

“Our objective is to organize this work as quickly as possible. But this also has some legislative nuances that must be maintained,” he added.

HSBC Armenia’s Head Office and STATUS services are moving to new address

 15:45, 3 November 2023

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 3, ARMENPRESS. HSBC Bank Armenia CJSC (hereinafter HSBC Armenia/Bank) announces that, effective from 6 November 2023, the Bank’s Head Office will be relocated to a new, comfortable and modern facility at the following address: 42 Paronyan street, Yerevan.

HSBC Armenia’s customers are welcome to visit the new location, which offers an environment that prioritises their comfort and convenience. The Bank will also maintain its services for its customers at the 66 Teryans street, Yerevan address, which will continue operating as “Teryan” branch.

Moreover, to ensure an enhanced customer experience, STATUS customers of HSBC Armenia will be served at the dedicated area of the Bank’s new head office, instead of the previous location at 4/1 Baghramyan Street, Yerevan.

“We are very excited to open the doors to our new Head Office, which has been designed to meet the high standards and expectations of our customers, providing a modern and comfortable environment for all,” comments Irina Seylanyan, CEO of HSBC Armenia.

“It also reflects our commitment to adopting HSBC Group’s latest workplace standards that support our employees' well-being, by providing more flexibility, better work-life balance and offering modern interior solutions to accommodate various work styles and preferences of our people.”

HSBC Holdings plc

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of HSBC, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 62 countries and territories. With assets of US$3,021 billion at 30 September 2023, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.

HSBC in Armenia

HSBC Bank Armenia CJSC was established in 1996. The bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Group. HSBC Armenia serves around 30 000 customers through six offices located in Yerevan and around 310 employees. As of 30 September 2023, the Bank has assets of AMD334 billion including the ones, allocated with the mediation of the HSBC Bank plc, London. The bank is regulated by the Central Bank of Armenia.

Armenia says outline of a peace deal agreed with Azerbaijan

Nov 3 2023
Ani Avetisyan Nov 3, 2023

Over the past week Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and other Armenian officials have been hinting that a peace deal with Azerbaijan could be imminent. 

They say the sides have reached agreement on three core principles of a deal while "details" remain to be settled.

Pashinyan told parliament on October 30 that a peace deal is "realistic" if the sides remain faithful to the principles of mutual recognition of territorial integrity, delimitation/demarcation of the shared border based on the 1991 Almaty declaration and the opening of transport links in a way that respects the two countries' sovereignty and customs laws. 

Later, ruling party MP Gevorg Papoyan echoed the prime minister, saying that only the "details" of the agreement are left to be hammered out.

Azerbaijan's deputy foreign minister, Elnur Mammadov, confirmed that "most points" of the peace agreement had been agreed with Yerevan. Mammadov said that reaching a deal had become "easier" thanks to Azerbaijan's takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh after its September 19-20 lightning offensive. 

Following that offensive, several planned meetings between Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders failed to take place in a reflection of the sides' differing preferences on who should mediate. 

Baku refused to take part in EU-led peace talks in Granada, Spain and in Brussels, while Armenia's prime minister was a no-show at a CIS summit in Bishkek where he'd been expected to meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, Armenia was represented at a meeting in Tehran on October 23 that involved Russia, Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan.

Armenia's lack of interest in Moscow-brokered peace talks comes as the country looks to the West for new strategic and security allies, signing an arms deal with France and intensifying diplomatic relations with a number of Western states. 

Prior to Azerbaijan's September offensive, which triggered the exodus of the region's entire Armenian population, the Karabakh Armenians' fate had been the thorniest issue in the talks. Baku had rejected the prospect of granting the region autonomous status, as well as Yerevan's calls for an international mechanism that would ensure the Karabakh Armenians' rights and securities under Azerbaijani rule. 

During Azerbaijan's attack on Karabakh on September 19, Pashinyan announced that Armenia's priority was to ensure that Karabakh Armenians could remain in the region and live a "dignified" life there. But now that it has been emptied of Armenians, Yerevan seems to have abandoned this demand and instead started the process of granting them refugee status or Armenian citizenship.

"Our policy is that if those displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh do not, objectively speaking, have the opportunity to return to Nagorno-Karabakh – our wish is that they all stay in Armenia, and live and work here," Pashinyan told a cabinet meeting on November 2. 

Another critical issue is "the opening of transport links," a provision of the 2020 ceasefire agreement that cemented Azerbaijan's gains in the Second Karabakh War. 

Baku long discussed this provision in the context of its "Zangezur corridor" project, which for a time it insisted was to be a seamless corridor connecting mainland Azerbaijan with its exclave Nakhchivan through Armenian territory and beyond Armenian sovereignty. 

Azerbaijan stepped back from the maximalist version of this project in February, and, after the September offensive, began giving assurances that it would no longer insist on a corridor and would instead make do with an alternative route through Iran

But Armenians are wary of these assurances, particularly given Russia's apparent interest in the Zangezur corridor project.

Fears persist in Armenia that Azerbaijan will use force to make the corridor a reality, and continued rhetoric from Baku about "Western Azerbaijan" is doing nothing to allay these fears. This is the notion that parts of Armenian territory rightfully belong to Azerbaijan, or that, at the very least, Azerbaijanis have the right to settle in formerly Azerbaijani-populated parts of Armenia. 

These concerns are shared by the EU, which has called on Azerbaijan to commit to respecting Armenian territory and by the U.S., where, according to Politico, Secretary of State Antony Blinken briefed members of Congress in early October on the risk of an Azerbaiajni invasion of Armenia. (The State Department rejected this report.) 

The Lemkin Genocide Prevention Institute issued a "red flag alert" on November 1 over a possible "invasion of Armenia by Azerbaijan in the coming days and weeks." 

On November 2, the US State Department told the Voice of America's Armenian service: "Any violation of Armenia's territorial integrity will have serious consequences." 


Armenia to offer refugee status to displaced Karabakhis

Oct 30 2023
Lilit Shahverdyan Oct 30, 2023

In a cabinet session on October 26, the Armenian government approved the creation of a "temporary protected status" for displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that the new status would facilitate the protection of their rights in the local and international arenas. 

The law automatically applies to the over 100,000 ethnic Armenians of Karabakh who fled to Armenia following Azerbaijan's forceful seizure of the territory on 19-20 September. That offensive – which came after a 9-month blockade that had caused severe shortages of food, fuel, medicine, and other essential supplies – resulted in the disbanding of the local army, the Artsakh Defense Force, on September 21. A few days later, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic itself, which had governed the region for three decades, began the process of formal dissolution. 

The Armenian government is only now beginning to grapple with the issue of the displaced persons' status.

Those eligible for the new temporary protected status are persons registered as residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, persons living in Armenia or abroad whose last registered address was in Nagorno-Karabakh, and persons who were not registered in Nagorno-Karabakh but lived there and were registered by the Armenian Migration and Citizenship Service as entering the country after September 19. 

Those who hold citizenship of a country other than Armenia are not eligible, as their protection is deemed to be under the jurisdiction of the relevant country.

It's not clear whether the new law applies to the roughly 20,000 displaced persons who resettled in Armenia after Azerbaijan captured territories in the 2020 Second Karabakh War that had previously been administered by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Refugees from Hadrout, Shusha, and other regions have long sought a legal status defining their position but were not granted any after their displacement three years ago.

The other option former Karabakh residents have, Prime Minister Pashinyan said, is to seek Armenian citizenship. 

This remark triggered surprise and offense among many Karabakhis, who thought they already were citizens, since they have been issued Armenian passports since 1999. 

Artyom Sujyan, an advisor to the minister of justice, told CivilNet that the passports were issued under an agreement between the ministers of internal affairs of the Republic of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as international travel documents.

"The government has asserted its position in numerous cases, even presented this position in the European Court, that the fact that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have passports of RA does not mean that they are considered RA citizens," said Sujyan. 

Indeed, Karabakh Armenians' passports bear the special code "070," and they have never enjoyed the political rights of citizens of Armenia such as the vote. 

The new law allows them to apply to become full-fledged Armenian citizens and gain political rights and social entitlements such as a state pension. But doing so will render them ineligible for the social assistance provided to those registered as refugees. 

The new protected status has a term of one year and can be extended through a new decision. The refugee certificates will be issued in January. 

According to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951, which Armenia is a signatory to, all persons recognized as refugees in Armenia will be regarded as such in all other signatory countries as well. 

Artyom Sujyan, the advisor to the justice minister, said that refugee status holders get certain benefits and stronger guarantees in other countries and cannot be expelled or deported from states where they seek refuge.

Meanwhile, the Armenian government has allocated one-off financial assistance of 100,000 AMD ($250) to all displaced persons (including children) from Nagorno-Karabakh and 50,000 AMD (about $125) to cover rental prices and utilities. For November and December, a separate program was approved providing additional monthly payments of 40,000 AMD ($100) to all the refugees. 

Lilit Shahverdyan is a journalist based in Stepanakert. 


Armenia keen to expand defence links with India as conflict festers

MINT, India
Oct 25 2023

NEW DELHI : Armenia is keen to expand its defence ties with India, its deputy foreign minister Mnatsakan Safaryan said, in the aftermath of its bitter conflict with Azerbaijan.

“Armenia is diversifying its defence cooperation and this is a good opportunity to further enhancing Armenian-Indian ties in this field," Safaryan told Mint.

The country has appointed a defence attaché to its Embassy in New Delhi in order to scope out potential for further cooperation, he added.

In 2020, India sold the Swathi weapon-locating radar system to Armenia. After this, a bilateral deal was struck for New Delhi to supply Yerevan anti-tank munitions, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers and ammunition.

In November 2022, Kalyani Strategic Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bharat Forge, won a $155 million contract to supply artillery guns to Armenia, according to numerous media reports citing defence ministry sources.

The relationship developed after Armenia lost a short but intense conflict with Azerbaijan in 2020.

In March this year, Armenia’s top military commander Maj-Gen Edward Asryan visited India and met chief of defence staff Gen Anil Chauhan.

Asryan also met the National Security Council. Prior to this, defence minister Suren Papikyan visited India in October 2022 to meet defence minister Rajnath Singh.

Safaryan also thanked India for condemning Azerbaijan’s “aggression" towards Armenia and welcomed a greater Indian role in the region.

“We would like to see India’s increased presence in Armenia and in our region at large, be it trade and business ties or others.

“Given your country’s fast development, it will contribute to overall stability in our region, as well as India’s strategy to engage more in its neighbourhood" Safaryan said.

India has taken an interest in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, where Armenians were in a majority.

While the region is recognised as a part of Azerbaijan, it was controlled by ethnic Armenians.

After taking back control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, Azerbaijan was able to consolidate its grip over the region after a short military campaign in September this year.

Azerbaijan’s victory may be a cause of concern to New Delhi because of the growing closeness between Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkey.

The three countries have built a closer military and political relationship in recent years. Turkey and Azerbaijan have backed Pakistan on Kashmir.

These concerns could pave the way for greater cooperation on national security.

Armenia’s secretary of the security council Armen Grigoryan and India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval met in August this year.




YEREVAN, OCTOBER 23, ARMENPRESS. The EU must condemn the Hamas attack on Israel and do everything to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in , EU diplomacy head Josep Borrell said at a press conference following a meeting of the foreign ministers of the 27 community countries in Luxembourg, informs TASS.

''To achieve this, it is imperative that humanitarian assistance be provided to the people of ,'' he noted.

AGBU organizes on-the-ground relief for Armenian evacuees from Artsakh

Armenian youth from Artsakh enjoying a full course warm meal in the Vayots Dzor region of Armenia

Over the past week, tens of thousands of Armenians finally concluded a long and arduous trip out of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to begin another journey in Armenia. That road begins in the town of Goris in the southern region of Armenia, where many of the forcibly displaced, for the first time in nearly a year, were served a fresh, warm, nutritionally balanced meal—compliments of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), working with international NGO, World Central Kitchen (WCK). Since then, AGBU has prepared and distributed over 10,000 meals per day, with the demand increasing exponentially. 

As soon as the WCK team arrived on the scene on September 29, they immediately joined forces with friend and kindred spirit Aline Kamakian, a prominent Lebanese-Armenian restauranteur and lifelong member of the AGBU global network, the world’s largest Armenian nonprofit organization with deep experience in humanitarian relief dating even prior to the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Collaborating with WCK, AGBU is ready to tackle this humanitarian crisis of historic proportions. 

“With an influx of over 100,000 displaced people entering in a matter of days, AGBU is ready to provide for people who have suffered through a nine-month blockade of vital supplies, as part of the ethnic cleansing campaign of Armenians by Azerbaijan,” stated AGBU President Berge Setrakian. “Working with World Central Kitchen and our friend Aline Kamakian once again is a critical partnership of resources, know-how and reach.” 

Kamakian and WCK had collaborated and cooperated before, in the aftermath of the 2020 Beirut Blast. That was when Kamakian found herself on the front lines of humanitarian relief, feeding hundreds of disaster victims for weeks and months on end. Working with the WCK team in person gave Kamakian and AGBU the opportunity to learn from this experienced group what is entailed in solving massive food insecurity in a disaster zone. Now the team is back in action to bring comfort and hope to ever-growing numbers of forcibly displaced Armenians.  

Last week, within hours of the first reports of those seeking refuge in Armenia from Artsakh, Kamakian was in Armenia working with the local AGBU office and its volunteers in the Syunik region near the Azerbaijani border. In short order, they set up a command post in Goris with nearby hubs in Sisian and Ishkhanasar. Another location was then established in the historical Vayots Dzor (Vayk) region, where many forcibly displaced are headed in the next leg of their journey to recovery. More hubs in Ararat, Massis and Yerevan were up and running, as those forced to leave Artsakh have spread out to the north, east and western regions of Armenia. Back in Goris, distribution is now focused on local hotels, hospitals and schools, as well as private residences where the refugees are sheltering. This aid has spread to seven regions and counting. 

In all cases, hot meals are prepared in local restaurant spaces, using locally sourced ingredients and recipes. In a full-circle AGBU moment, some local restaurant owners happened to be alumni of the AGBU EmpowerHer Initiative, which offers support to Armenia’s women entrepreneurs.  

“Many of these evacuees, including the very sick and ailing, had to pack up in a hurry only to face standstill traffic for hours upon hours to cross the border to safety in Armenia proper. This only added to the trauma of the situation,” explained Kamakian. “The shock to the body, mind and spirit is something we have seen before, when victims of disaster and catastrophe are in no condition to fend for themselves. That’s where a balanced warm meal made with fresh ingredients—with lots of dignity and compassion added to the mix—may be the first sign of hope for them. It gives them the physical and moral strength to begin a new and uncertain chapter in their lives.” 

AGBU has made it possible for WCK and Kamakian to waste no time setting up the logistics of this immense effort, providing them with the resources, volunteers and anything else she needs to ensure that her fellow Armenians have a chance to rebuild their shattered lives. With the support and generosity of WCK, she is confident that this vital aspect of humanitarian relief will make an important difference in this very difficult transition period. 

Setrakian went on to say, “We appreciate that WCK immediately recognized the tragic dimensions of this crisis and is able to provide free meals for an extended period to evacuees, including those in hospitals in desperate need of emergency care. We also owe our thanks to Aline Kamakian for her take-charge spirit and professional skill set that enable her to organize such an urgent and multifaceted undertaking. Her presence here in Armenia during this critical time is both reassuring and inspiring for all.”

Donations to the humanitarian effort for Armenians forcibly displaced from Artsakh can be made to AGBU Global Relief Fund.

The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs. Each year, AGBU is committed to making a difference in the lives of 500,000 people across Armenia, Artsakh and the Armenian diaspora. Since 1906, AGBU has remained true to one overarching goal: to create a foundation for the prosperity of all Armenians.