A Turkish court has convicted a man for instigating the killing of a Turkish-Armenian journalist five years ago, sentencing him to life imprisonment.
Hrant Dink was the editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos and Turkey’s best known Armenian voice abroad when he was shot as he left his office in Istanbul in January 2007. He was 52.
The Istanbul court on Tuesday sentenced Yasin Hayal, 31, to life imprisonment and cleared 19 defendants of a charge of being part of a terrorist group.
Last July a juvenile court sentenced Dink’s self-confessed assassin, Ogun Samast, to 22 years and 10 months in jail. He was 17 when the killing took place.
Another prime suspect, Erhan Tuncel, a police informer, was sentenced to 10 and a half years’ jail, but for another crime – the 2004 bombing of a McDonalds restaurant in the northern Turkish city of Trabzon.
The acquittal of all the suspects of the charge of acting as members of an illegal armed organisation was denounced by Dink’s lawyers who say the murder was a planned act.
Broader inquiry urged
Dozens of intellectuals, politicians and activists had gathered on Tuesday in Istanbul’s commercial hub demanding a broader investigation into Dink’s murder.
The group, which included Dink’s widow, Rakel, marched to the court, calling for the punishment of state officials they accuse of being behind the murder.
Protesters chanted: “Those who ordered the murder should be judged.”
Dink’s assassination sent shockwaves through Turkey and grew into a wider scandal after reports that the security forces had known of a plot to kill him but failed to act.
Dink had been receiving death threats from ultra-nationalist Turks.
A leading member of Turkey’s tiny Armenian community, Dink campaigned for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians over their bloody history.
Nationalists hated him, however, for calling the massacres of Armenians under Ottoman rule a genocide, a label that Turkey fiercely rejects.
The Dink case has been closely followed by the European Union as it underlined concerns over Turkey’s human-rights record and democratic credentials.