European Court Finds Turkey Guilty of Failing to Protect Dink


ISTANBUL (Wall Street Journal) —The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday, September 14 ruled that Turkey was guilty of failing to protect ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink when authorities knew his assassination was imminent, and of then failing to adequately investigate his murder.

Dink, the editor of the small, Istanbulbased Armenian-language daily Agos, was shot to death as he returned to the newspaper’s offices in January 2007. His murder became a cause célèbre in Turkey and a symbol of the state’s alleged protection or even encouragement of nationalist extremists.

“None of the three authorities informed of the planned assassination and its imminent realization had taken action to prevent it,” the court found, while “no effective investigation had been carried out” into those failures.

The decision is an embarrassment for Turkey’s government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has pledged to improve the rights and treatment of Turkey’s ethnic minorities. The government recently sought to settle with the family, after withdrawing a defense of the state’s actions which had relied on a precedent that appeared to compare Dink’s comments aimed at reconciling Turkish and Armenian views on the 1915 slaughter of ethnic Armenians with hate speech by a neo-Nazi.

A spokesman for the ministry of justice didn’t return calls requesting comment on the ruling.

Dink’s family brought the case against the Turkish state at the European court in Strasbourg. Tuesday’s ruling found for the family on all counts, according to their lawyer Arzu Becerik, awarding Dink’s widow, Rakel Dink, with 100,000 euros ($128,760) in damages.

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

Police launched an investigation into the young Turkish nationalist who allegedly carried out the murder. They investigated 17 others, though not the police chiefs and regional governors who the family believe were complicit, either in the assassination itself or in obstructing prosecution of those responsible, Becerik said in an interview. A video taken immediately after the assassination appeared to show police smiling and posing with the alleged killer, Ogun Samast, who was then 17.

The government itself is pursuing an alleged “deep state” organization in a series of massive court cases. It has said it is trying to clean up state institutions and bring them under full government control, where for decades they had acted as a law unto themselves, on occasion toppling elected governments. Becerik, however, said the government needed to do more in the case of Dink.

“We will take this decision as a basis to renew our criminal complaints [in Turkey] and take those responsible to court,” as well as demanding that the current investigation should be widened, said Becerik. “These people cannot be taken to court because the regional governors did not give permission. The governors are civil servants and they answer to the government, which can take them to court.”

Becerik said the family hadn’t accepted the government’s offer of an amicable settlement, partly because it came too late, but also because a negotiation would follow in which the family would be asked to compromise on their efforts to secure justice.

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: