ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)—An estimated 20,000 people flooded the streets of Istanbul on Thursday to mark the fifth anniversary of the murder of editor of Agos newspaper, Hrant Dink, and to protest a recent court ruling that set free many of the murder suspects, and denounced the state of affairs in Turkey.
According to news accounts, the demonstrators carried signs that read, “We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenian” and chanted “Murderer state will account for this” and “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism,” as they made their way from the city’s Taksim square to the editorial offices of Agos newspaper.
On the morning of Jan. 19 a new plaque was seen on one of the cobblestones of the Agos building in Istanbul, reported Asbrez’s sister publication on the East Coast, the Armenian Weekly. It read, “Hrant Dink was murdered here, January 19, 2007, at 15:05.”
Trial Outcome a Disappointment
The anniversary of Dink’s death came two days after 19 suspects were acquitted of charges of being members of a terrorist organization that plotted the murder. Another suspect, Yasin Hayal, received a life sentence on charges of instigating the premeditated murder.
The Dink family and human rights organizations condemned the ruling. The Dink family lawyers say the murder was a planned act.
Last year, an Istanbul court sentenced Ogun Samast, a 17-year-old Turkish ultra-nationalist, to 22 years and 10 months in prison for killing Dink in front of the Agos newspaper building. Samast was prosecuted as a minor, and received a lenient sentence for his crime.
In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Turkish government to pay compensation to the Dink family, after a ruling that found the state guilty of failing to protect the murdered journalist.
Amid wide public criticism of the court’s ruling, the court’s presiding judge said he is personally not satisfied with the verdict either, Today’s Zaman reports.
The presiding judge of the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court, Rüstem Eryılmaz, spoke with the Vatan daily on Thursday saying that he and other judges of the court also think the Dink murder was not an ordinary one, he said there certainly is someone who instigated the murder, but they had no evidence to prove that.
Sharing his personal views about the case, Eryılmaz added that he believes that the killing of Dink was not simply an idea thought up by Hayal.
“There must be some instigators. This is my personal view. But in order to accept this situation as legal fact, there should be evidence. Since expectations were high in this case, this ruling pleased nobody. If you ask me whether I was personally satisfied, I would say no since I believe there are more instigators,” he said.
Complaining that light was not shed on the background of the murder in this case, the judge said the ruling still does not mean that the Dink case is closed. He recalled that there is an ongoing case against the unknown masterminds of the murder and state officials who are accused of abuse of power in the murder of Dink.