ANKARA (Hurriyet)–The author of Turkey’s controversial defense in a European Court of Human Rights case regarding murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has been identified as a civil servant who recently began working at the public undersecretariat, the Turkish daily Aksam reported Thursday.
According to the paper, Ergin Ergul denied the claims and said he did not prepare the defense, which drew parallels between Neo-Nazism and the perspectives of the journalist, who was killed on January 19, 2007.
Ergul was recently appointed as the head of the Public Order and Security Undersecretariat responsible for legal affairs, but at the time the defense was written, he was working at the Justice Ministry as deputy director-general for international law and foreign relations, according to Aksam.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has expressed regret for the statements about Neo-Nazism, while Justice Minister Sadullah Ergun has called the defense unacceptable. The government has started a process through the European court to reach a friendly settlement instead of continuing with the trial.
In a recent interview, Davutoglu said, “such defenses are prepared at the technical level without any need for a signature from any minister” and that the statements linking Dink to Neo-Nazism were “not an appropriate defense in the context of our current criteria.”
“But are those who wrote that defense bad? No,” Davutoglu added. “They are in a position to defend the state practice. This has nothing to do with the executive, but as the judiciary is a state institution, we need to take this into account.”
The Turkey vs. Dink case at the European court is the merger of two civil cases; one preceded Dink’s killing and the other is related to the murder, for which suspect Ogun Samast is currently on trial in Istanbul. The first case was filed with the European court as a challenge to the journalist being charged with “insulting Turkishness” under the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, while the second alleges Turkey failed to adequately protect the life of Dink, who received repeated death threats before his assassination three years ago.