A protest for justice for Hrant Dink in Istanbul some years ago.

Third Dink Murder Trial Verdicts Issued, Dink Family Issues Statement

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ISTANBUL (MiddleEastEye, Bianet, Dink Family) – An Istanbul court issued six sentences of life imprisonment and 23 jail terms, while 33 defendants were acquitted on March 26 in the third court case concerning the January 2007 Hrant Dink murder. One individual died during the trial, leading to charges against him being dropped.

Among those sentenced were former police chiefs and security officials. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Representative to Turkey Erol Önderoğlu commented: “The Hrant Dink case is not over. This is the third trial and it does not comprise behind-the-scenes actors who threatened him with a statement, threw him before violent groups as an object of hate or failed to act so that he would get killed. As a matter of fact, the attorneys of the Dink family made an application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) last year as they could not have over 20 officials put on trial.”

The 17-year-old Ogun Samast was convicted of the crime in 2011 but it was clear that he could not have carried out this alone. The first court ruling was issued in January 2012 but after some reversals in a court of cassation it was retried by the same court which gave its ruling on the cases of nine main defendants, including Samast, in July 2019. Seven were given prison sentences.

In the current court, prosecutors claimed those sentenced were supporters of Fethullah Gülen and in fact the latter, living in the US, was listed as a fugitive along with 12 others whose cases were separated from those who received verdicts.

Dink was a spokesman for the rights of Turkish-Armenians and remains even in his death a symbol of the oppression that community faces. His family issued a statement on March 26 on the occasion of the new verdicts.

Statement by the Dink Family

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On 19 January 2007, Hrant Dink was heinously murdered, shot from behind with two bullets, just in front of the offices of his newspaper, Agos, in the heart of Istanbul.

The murder occurred at the end of a three-year period of threats and targeting by the General Command of the Armed Forces, politicians, the judiciary, the media and some so-called non-governmental organizations controlled by the state.

One week before he was killed, he left a message for all of us in his article “Why was I targeted?” and in the last speeches he gave, he explained that “This is an operation by the deepest elements of the state designed to put me in my place.” In the past 14 years, none of the events, people or relationships mentioned by Hrant Dink in his last article have been included in the investigation. And this when many of the things he witnessed or suspected were later proven with documentary evidence…

The operation did not end with the murder; it continued with negligence, cover-ups, the destruction of evidence and misleading information.

We will never be convinced by a judicial process that does not take into account this entire mechanism.

The judgement made today is a long way from this truth. It is very difficult to understand the acquittals and sentencing that are even inconsistent within the decision itself. Indeed, some decisions leave the impression that what is being punished is not evil itself, but the fact that this evil was leaked.

Topics: Human Rights
People: Hrant Dink

At this point in the judicial process, it is said that the group known as FETÖ [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization], claimed to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of our citizens and the wounding of thousands more in a shameful operation carried out on 15 July 2016, also killed Hrant in 2007. If this is true, had an effective investigation been carried out from the very beginning — an investigation that we demanded and strived to make happen — so many of our citizens’ lives would not have been lost almost 10 years later. Therefore, do the families of these hundreds of people not deserve an explanation of why the Hrant Dink murder was not investigated in a timely fashion?

At a time when the standing of the judiciary is at rock bottom, is it possible for any court to reach a fair judgement? Such an environment is of course very comforting for those responsible for such crimes… Unfortunately, we today see a similar climate and ideology to that which dominated during the years when Hrant Dink was targeted and when he was murdered. In such an atmosphere, how can we talk about truth and justice? Today, is it possible for anyone to stand up and honestly say that Hrant Dink’s murder had nothing to do with the fact that he was Armenian? How can anyone deny the racism that has worked its way into the very veins of this mechanism?

If this trial is ended in this way, if the deep-state mechanism that has existed for years is simply brushed aside as being the work of FETÖ and no effective investigation is carried out, who will bear the responsibility for other lives that may be lost in the future? Just as the killer was a child, FETÖ and Ergenekon are also children. The mechanism itself, however, is much older. And we must not allow this mechanism to continue to take other lives.

We need an immediate call for transparency, democracy and rule of law as much as we need air, bread and water. What we hope for is a confrontation: For society to confront this crime, for perpetrators to confront their own crimes, and for institutions to learn the necessary lessons.

We, Hrant Dink’s family, together with his friends and lawyers and with the strength of those who carried his coffin on their shoulders, will never give up our legal battle or our attempts to understand and explain. Not until the entire mechanism is exposed and taken out of operation.

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