Wednesday, January 19, 2011

For Hrant, For Justice

It was four years ago today that Turkish Armenian Hrant Dink was gunned down in the street and the botched investigation and unwieldy series of trials since have only added to the despair of the loss. On Monday, Dink family lawyers filed another petition with the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office seeking an investigation into the event surrounding his death and implementation of the European Court of Human Rights decision Dink lawyers won last September. The Court found that the Turkish government had failed to conduct an effective investigation into his death, fell short of protecting his right to life, and had violated his rights to freedom of expression.   From Hurriyet Daily News:
The family demanded investigations of the police and gendarmerie officials allegedly responsible for the murder, either directly or by neglecting their duties. In their application, they argued that the European court’s decision canceled the authority of certain domestic laws that had previously blocked the path of putting such officials on trial.

Dink, a Turkish citizen of Armenian origin, was murdered in front of the office of the weekly Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos on Jan. 19, 2007. Confessed killer Ogün Samast was transferred to a juvenile court in October, and his trial separated from the main murder case, due to a legal change he benefited from because he was under the age of 18 on the day of the assassination.

Yasin Hayal, who is accused of abetting the murder, and Erhan Tuncel, a former police informant who claims innocence on the grounds that he told security forces everything he knew months before the murder, are still on trial under arrest. The only suspects left after three years of the trial, they will be released next year if they are not convicted by that time under a recent legal change that limits arrest periods without conviction to a maximum of five years.

From the beginning, lawyers for the Dink family have stated that the murder was not the work of “three to five nationalist youth,” but even the official inspector’s reports concluded that the National Intelligence Organization, or MİT, should be investigated were not enough to allow the questioning of high-ranking suspects from the police, gendarmerie and the MİT.
As they have every year since the first anniversary of Dink's murder, thousands gathered on the street where he was shot to call for the government to hold those responsible to account. For more on Dink and his family's attempts to uncover the details of his assassination, see past posts. For an excellent documentary produced in 2009 on the event surrounding the murder and the subsequent attempts by authorities to cover up their involvement, click here.

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