03/27/2021, 10.02
TURKEY
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Istanbul: four life sentences for Hrant Dink murder, disappointment of Armenians

Two former police chiefs and two other former senior officials of the Interior Ministry sentenced. The Armenian community says the sentence fails to do justice to the victim. RSF: "Partial justice" 14 years after his death. Friends of Hrant Dink Group: the mechanisms and connections that led to the assassination are still unknown.

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Turkish court yesterday sentenced four people to life imprisonment, two former police chiefs and two other people, top security officials, in connection with the murder of the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

The local minority still cherish the memory of the reporter killed in front of the Agos headquarters on January 19, 2007 - tried two years earlier for writing about the genocide and killed in cold blood with four gunshots by a young man. The Armenian community in Turkey recently dedicated a youth center in Istanbul to his memory and have expressed their disappointment at what they see as a failure to do the victim justice.

Former police chiefs Ali Fuat Yilmazer and Ramazan Akyürek were convicted of the crime, along with two former senior officials of the Turkish Interior Ministry, Yavuz Karakaya and Muharrem Demirkale. There were a total of 27 defendants, charged with various crimes including lack of supervision aimed at preventing the murder.

However, the other defendants, including the top executives of the Istanbul and Trabzon police, and accused by the victim's family of implications in the murder, were acquitted by the judges "because the crimes ascribed to them have lapsed”.

Lawyers representing the family of the journalist and editor of the bilingual Turkish and Armenian weekly had submitted evidence to the Court showing the involvement of the police chiefs, who were allegedly warned of the plan to murder the then 52-year-old Hrant Dink. Despite the warnings, the top executives did nothing to prevent it, leaving a free hand to the killer.

At the time, his death had shaken the consciences of many citizens and more than 100,000 people had participated in his funeral, recognizing the work of a chronicler and intellectual who had worked for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians. However, the Turkish nationalists have never forgiven him the repeated denunciations of the Armenian genocide of 1915, always strongly denied by Ankara.

His killer, Ogun Samast, a 17-year-old unemployed youth at the time of the murder, confessed to the crime and was sentenced in 2011 to 23 years in prison. Human rights defenders and activists criticize the trial that ended yesterday and that would not have shed full light on the matter. “Some officials - says the representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Turkey Erol Önderoglu - are still at large. This partial justice rendered after 14 years leaves a bitter taste in the mouth ".

Bulent Aydin, of the Friends of Hrant Dink group, reports that "it is not yet known exactly what are the mechanisms that led to planning and committing the crime." Turkish authorities say the network of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, the number one enemy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after being his longtime ally, is believed to be the mastermind of the (failed) coup of July 2016, according to Turkish authorities. At a commemoration of the murder last January, the journalist's widow denounced an attempt to hide the responsibility of the state.

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