Turkey: Ruling in Hrant Dink murder case does not shed light on real instigators

world | Jan 19, 2012 | By Asia News

Istanbul – A Turkish court has sentenced to Yasin Hayal to life in prison for instigating the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Another suspect, Erhan Tuncel, was acquitted on murder charges. Ogun Samast, who executed the murder, was sentenced to 22 years because he was a minor at the time of the crime. Nineteen other suspects were acquitted from charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation. The trail lasted five years.

Dink, editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, was shot dead on 19 January 2007 outside the offices of his newspaper in Istanbul in broad daylight. The evidence collected since the murder “has led to claims that the murder was linked to the ‘deep state’, a term used in reference to a shady group of military and civilian bureaucrats believed to have links with criminal elements,” Today’s Zaman reports.

A former police informer, Erhan Tuncel, claimed that the assassination was the work of Ergenekon, a clandestine organisation whose alleged members are currently on trial for plotting to destabilise the government in order to provoke a military intervention.

Dink’s lawyers asked the government to subpoena documents from the Ergenekon inquiry. For them, Dink’s murder, like that of Italian clergyman, Fr Andrea Santoro in Trabzon, and that of three Christians in Malatya, was part of the Ergenekon plan to undermine the government and precipitate a military coup.

Last September, Prosecutor Hikmet Usta said he believed the Ergenekon's Trabzon cell was behind Dink’s murder and demanded life imprisonment for seven suspects on charges of attempting to destroy the constitutional order.

Following the announcement of the court ruling, Dink family's lawyer, Fethiye Çetin, slammed the ruling. “They made fun of us throughout the five-year trial process,” she said after the verdict was read out. “We did not know they saved the biggest joke to the very end,” she added. “This ruling means a tradition was left untouched, the state tradition of political murders, the tradition of state discriminating against some of its citizens and turning them into enemies.” The ruling will be appealed.

In Brussels, Peter Stano, spokesperson for Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, said that in 2010 the European Court of Human Rights had found that Turkey had failed to conduct an effective investigation into the murder of Dink, thus not guaranteeing his right to life.

For Yavuz Baydar, writing in Today’s Zaman, the “successful attempt to limit the scope of the trial will shed light on the persistent pattern within the ‘deep state’ to protect itself, and the choice of political authorities to ‘go along with it’ can only explain the limitations of the power of the judiciary today.”



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