Turkish Court’s Verdict On Hrant Dink Murder
Verdicts on nine defendants responsible for the killing of Hrant Dink, the editor-in-chief of the “Agos” newspaper have been already announced. Ogün Samast, Erhan Tuncel and Yasin Hayal are among them.
By the Court decision, Erhan Tuncel was sentenced to 99 years 6 months imprisonment.
Tuncel was arrested in the courtroom. The Court issued against Tuncel life imprisonment for several crimes: 13 years for the organization of an explosion at McDonald's as a result of which six people were wounded, for the organization of the murder of the editor-in-chief of the Armenian newspaper “Agos” Hrant Dink and a car-bomb explosion.
Yasin Hayal, another suspect, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment before, got 7.5 years of jail for the creation and leadership of the armed group, responsible for the McDonalds bombing.
Ogün Samast, a native of Trabzon, who was 16 years old at the time of the crime, was sentenced to 2.5 years for participating in the armed group. Samast is also serving a term of 22 years and 10 months for Dink’s murder.
Zeynel Abidin Yavuz was sentenced to 12 years and 6 months in prison for "assistance to murder" and 1 year, 6 months and 22 days in prison for "membership of an armed organization."
Ersin Yolcu and Ahmet İskender were sentenced to 1 year, 10 months and 15 days in prison for "membership of an armed criminal organization."
Attorney of Osman Hayal and Yasin Hayal who spoke first said that they do not agree with the charge of organization management and claimed that there are not sufficient conditions to be an organization. Stating that the conditions of organized crime are not present, the attorney requested acquittal of this charge.
Samast: we aren’t an organization
Speaking next, Ogün Samast gave a short statement, saying that he did not commit an organized crime. “We are not a criminal organization. The head of the Istanbul police also confirmed that we were not a criminal organization: we just lived as neighbors in the same area. The crimes of Yasin Hayal committed earlier were just attached to our case. The number of defendants should be more than three therefore it is baseless to call us a criminal organization. The McDonalds’s explosion is not connected with us: we were just friends and lived in the same area. Among the members of the criminal organization should be a hierarchy, the participants must obey the leader. There must be several crimes committed by them. To be friends and live in the same district doesn’t mean to be a criminal gang”.
He has repented
Samast also stated that he accepted the announcement of the verdict to be deferred and requested to benefit from the effective remorse law. He also added that he had been actively cooperating with the police since the first day of the investigation:
“For 13 years I have been really working hard and have made a huge progress. When making the verdict, I ask you to take into account that 13 years have passed since the crime and I have repented long ago, as well as I ask you to take into account my age.”
Erhan Tuncel spoke next, saying that he notified the police on the killing of Hrant Dink as assistant intelligence personnel and that he was made a defendant although he was an informer. He also mentioned that the murder could be prevented but it wasn’t.
It seemed they lived in a Fascist society
Hakan Bakırcıoğlu, an attorney of the Dink family, spoke after Tuncel, pointing out the contradictions in Tuncel’s statement: “The organization which decided to kill Hrant Dink and planned and practiced the murder committed a crime against the Constitution of the country”. They carried our systematic attacks and made Dink a target. They killed him as soon as they found the right time”.
“Before the assassination of Hrant Dink in the summer of 2002, the defendants attacked a Catholic priest of the church of Santa Maria in Trabzon. They also injured six people in the center of Trabzon in McDonalds, trying to kill the writer Orhan Pamuk. The organization’s involvement in the murder of the Russian consul is also being verified.”
By their actions, the defendants sought to turn the country into a totalitarian, repressive state, and make the society fascist with no place for democracy and rights. The murder of Hrant Dink, an Armenian who has repeatedly spoken on the Armenian issue, is the result of a racist ideology.”
"The defendants worked out a plan together with civil servants, and after the crime the defendants were acquitted."
"The defendants, by their actions, wanted to undermine the basic principles of the republic's existence: political, legal, social, secular order, to destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms."
The founder of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual newspaper “Agos” Hrant Dink was shot to death on a busy street outside the office as a result of an organized group crime. His assassination sent shockwaves through Turkey and the world.
Translated by Manan Ajamyan.