18 January 2012


Life sentence and acquittals handed down in Hrant Dink murder trial

(BIANET/IFEX) - On 17 January 2012, five years after the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the court has finally reached a decision in the murder trial. Dink, who was the editor-in-chief of the "Armenian Agos" newspaper at the time, was gunned down in front of his office on 19 January 2007 in the district of Sisli (Istanbul).

The verdicts are as follows:

All the defendants were acquitted of charges of membership in a criminal organization.

Yasin Hayal was convicted of inciting the gunman to kill Dink and was given a sentence of life imprisonment with no chance of parole. Moreover, he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for threatening author Orhan Pamuk and one additional year in jail for possession of an unlicensed weapon.

Osman Hayal was acquitted of charges of homicide and of membership in a criminal organization.

Erhan Tuncel was acquitted of membership in an armed terrorist organization and instigation to homicide. However, Tuncel was sentenced to 10 years and six months for the McDonalds bombing.

Salih Hacisalihoglu was sentenced to 2 months and 15 days in jail on charges of unlicensed possession of ammunition.

Ersin Yolcu and Ahmet Iskender each received prison terms of 12 years and six months for assisting in a premeditated murder. Iskender was furthermore sentenced to 1 year of imprisonment for possession of an unlicensed weapon.

Tuncel and Hayal, who were in detention, attended the final hearing, as did Yolcu, who was not detained, as well as the other defendants and their lawyers.

Kadriye Ceylan, mother of Tolga Baykal Ceylan, who disappeared in 2004, applied for joint plaintiff status for the last hearing but her request was dismissed.

At the beginning of the final hearing, the Dink family's attorneys criticized the prosecutor's final plea statement presented at the previous hearing. He had claimed that "Dink was not killed because he was Armenian". In the attorneys' opinion, "the prosecutor is wrong. Hrant Dink was made a target and killed because he was Armenian, because he voiced that problem and reported on it. His being threatened is the result of the minority policies of the Turkish state. Therefore, we based an important part of our final speech on this issue," the lawyers replied.

They reminded the prosecutor that he claimed in his final plea that the murder was committed by the Trabzon cell of the clandestine Ergenekon organization (charged with an attempt to topple the government).

The attorneys continued, "We made countless applications to prosecute public officials but it did not help at all. The prosecutor spoke of a more comprehensive higher organization but since evidence was being concealed this remained a mere finding. Also the prosecutor accepted the fact that public officials were responsible for this murder. We request Osman Hayal be punished on charges of membership in a criminal organization and homicide as well. Apart from these points we agree with the prosecutor's final plea".

The plaintiffs' lawyers presented a brief speech of defence and demanded that their clients be acquitted of all charges.

( . . . )

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