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.