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Erdogan Intervenes in Retrial of Hrant Dink Murder Case


Turkish-Armenian Journalist Hrant Dink's portrait on November 3, 2006 in Istanbul, Turkey. Hrant Dink was killed on January 19, 2007

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has intervened in the retrial of the Hrant Dink murder case, a highly significant and long-standing legal battle. The İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court, adhering to the decision of the Court of Cassation, conducted its first hearing on November 1, reopening the case involving 15 defendants linked to the tragic murder of Hrant Dink, the editor-in-chief of Agos, who was assassinated in front of his newspaper's office in Istanbul on January 19, 2007.


During the hearing, defendants Şükrü Yıldız and Mehmet Ali Özkılıç were physically present, while 12 other defendants, including seven detainees, participated through the Audio-Visual Informatics System (SEGBIS). The defendants expressed their disagreement with the Court of Cassation's decision and appealed for their release, emphasizing their desire to attend the hearing in person and present their defense.


In a surprising turn of events, the lawyer representing the Presidency, Timuçin Üzel, sought to intervene in the case, requesting the court's decision to allow the Presidency's participation in the public trial. Üzel stated, "The Presidency has suffered damage due to attempts to overthrow the constitutional order. We request a decision for the Presidency to participate in the public trial." He further demanded the punishment of the defendants and measures to be taken regarding their assets and receivables.


Responding to these developments, Bahri Belen, one of the lawyers representing the Dink family, expressed dissatisfaction with the Court of Cassation's decision, highlighting a substantial evidence folder that was allegedly disregarded by the court.


Following statements from all parties, the court decided to comply with the Court of Cassation's reversal decision. It ruled to continue the detention of several defendants, including Gazi Günay, Hasan Durmuşoğlu, Muharrem Demirkale, Okan Şimşek, Osman Gülbel, Veysal Şahin, and Yavuz Karakaya.


Additionally, the court accepted the Presidency's request to intervene and granted one month for parties to make statements concerning the separation of files and the expansion of the prosecution. The court emphasized that it would assess the petitions and, if found irrelevant to the trial, forward the case file to the prosecutor for the final opinion on the merits.


The next hearing in this high-profile case is scheduled for January 10, 2024.


Hrant Dink, a prominent Turkish-Armenian intellectual, editor-in-chief of Agos, journalist, and columnist, was an advocate for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and human rights in Turkey. He was tragically assassinated in 2007, sparking a series of legal battles that continue to shape the nation's judicial landscape.


The retrial, overseen by President Erdogan's intervention, marks a crucial moment in the pursuit of justice for Hrant Dink, a case that has captured international attention for its significance in advocating freedom of speech and minority rights in Turkey.


The sentences received:

  1. Former Trabzon Gendarmerie Regiment Commander Ali Öz was sentenced to 25 years for "killing a person by using another as a tool" and 3 years 4 months for "counterfeiting an official document."

  2. İstanbul Gendarmerie Intelligence Branch officer Bekir Yokuş received a 10-year sentence for "assisting in the murder of a person."

  3. Trabzon Intelligence Branch Director Faruk Sarı was sentenced to 12 years 6 months for "causing the negligent commission of manslaughter" and 3 years 9 months for "destroying an official document."

  4. Trabzon Gendarmerie Intelligence officer Gazi Günay received a 25-year sentence for "killing a person by using another as a tool" and 3 years 4 months for "counterfeiting an official document."

  5. Trabzon Intelligence Branch Deputy Director Hasan Durmuşoğlu was sentenced to 12 years 6 months for "negligent behavior" and 3 years 9 months for "destroying an official document."

  6. Trabzon Intelligence Branch officer Mehmet Ayhan received a 12-year 6-month sentence for "causing the negligent commission of manslaughter" and 3 years 9 months for "destroying an official document."

  7. Civil Servant Inspector Mehmet Ali Özkılıç was sentenced to 7 years 6 months for "being a member of an armed terrorist organization" and 1 year 18 months for "harboring an offender."

  8. İstanbul Gendarmerie Intelligence Team Commander Muharrem Demirkale received a life sentence for "killing a person by using another as a tool" and a life sentence for "attempting to abolish the constitutional order."

  9. Trabzon Gendarmerie Intelligence officer Okan Şimşek was sentenced to 25 years for "killing a person by using another as a tool" and 3 years 4 months for "counterfeiting an official document."

  10. Trabzon Intelligence Branch officer Onur Karakaya received a 12-year 6-month sentence for "causing the negligent commission of manslaughter" and 3 years 9 months for "destroying an official document."

  11. Intelligence Directorate C Branch Deputy Director Osman Gülbel was sentenced to 16 years 8 months for "causing the negligent commission of manslaughter."

  12. Civil Servant Inspector Şükrü Yıldız received a 3 years 9 months sentence for "knowingly and willingly aiding the organization without being a part of its hierarchical structure."

  13. Trabzon Gendarmerie Intelligence officer Veysal Şahin was sentenced to 25 years for "killing a person by using another as a tool" and 3 years 4 months for "counterfeiting an official document."

  14. Trabzon Gendarmerie Intelligence officer Volkan Şahin received a 12-year 6-month sentence for "causing the negligent commission of manslaughter."

  15. İstanbul Gendarmerie Intelligence Branch Non-commissioned Officer Yavuz Karakaya was sentenced to life imprisonment for "attempting to abolish the constitutional order" and 12 years 6 months for "killing a person by using another person as a tool."

(HA/PE)





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