The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, welcomed the court decision in Turkey handing down prison sentences to seven people over the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
Hrant Dink, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Armenian-Turkish language weekly Agos Magazine, was shot dead in front of his office in Istanbul on 19 January 2007. Twelve years after his murder, a Turkish court announced verdicts against nine defendants, whose case files were previously separated to prevent a possible violation of the statute of limitations.
“The court decision convicting seven people in relation to the murder of the prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, is a positive step forward, but more needs to be done. I remain hopeful that all others involved in this murder will face justice,” Désir said.
The court ruled that the murder was an ‘organized crime’, and sentenced Erhan Tuncel to 99 years and six months in prison for his connection to Dink’s murder and being a member of an armed group.
Yasin Hayal, who was previously sentenced to life for instigating the murder, received seven years and six months in prison for forming and leading an armed group. The assassin, Ogün Samast, who was previously sentenced to 22 years and ten months, received another two years and six months in prison for membership of an armed group.
Ersin Yolcu and Ahmet Iskender each received jail terms of just under two years for their role in the murder, while Tuncay Uzundal and Zeynel Abidin Yavuz were sentenced to more than ten years in prison. Two defendants were acquitted.
“After twelve years, Hrant’s family, friends and fellow journalists deserve to know the full truth behind this heinous killing. It is therefore of utmost importance that the Turkish authorities identify and bring the masterminds of Dink’s murder to justice,” Désir said.
The Representative will continue to monitor developments as the trials of further suspects continue.