ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Yasin Hayal has been sentenced to life sentence for his role in murder of Dink. REUTERS photo
Yasin Hayal, who is currently serving a life sentence for his role in the assassination of Armenian-Turkish journalist
Hrant Dink, could be released in four months due to a legal loophole, according to a lawyer for the Dink family.
The court that issued the sentences in the Dink murder trial failed to properly send the file to the Supreme Court of Appeals, weekly Agos, of which Hrant Dink
was editor-in-chief when he was murdered in January, 2006, reported yesterday.
“All of the suspects were acquitted by the court on charges of being a member of an organization, so the maximum time Hayal could serve [if the sentence is not approved by the Appeals Court] is six years,” Fethiye Çetin, a lawyer for the Dink family, was quoted as saying in Agos. “It is almost impossible for the Supreme Court of Appeals to announce its ruling in the next four months.”
A recent amendment to the Turkish Penal Code has limited the maximum time to be spent in prison to five years, except on organized crime or terrorism charges, with the Supreme Court of Appeals having the authority to extend this for one year.
Bahri Belen, another lawyer for the Dink family, said the issue was controversial. “We can’t know for sure if the verdict was sent to the appeals court properly,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News
over the phone yesterday. “But as long as a sentence is approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals, any convict could be released on such legal grounds.”
The 14th Court of Serious Crimes sent the verdict to the Supreme Court of Appeals on June 6, but it was sent back to the court because some intervening parties were not officially informed about it. The court wrote a notice to Istanbul police on Aug. 10 demanding addresses and contact information for the intervening parties, showing that it still was not ready to re-send the verdict, Agos reported.
The verdict will first be submitted to the Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Çetin said, and he will inform both parties of his opinion. Then the appeal will be checked. The suspects’ lawyer will probably ask for a hearing date, further delaying a verdict.
The instigator of the Dink murder, Yasin Hayal, was sentenced on Jan. 17 to aggravated life imprisonment, while the triggerman, Ogün Samast, had earlier been sentenced to 22 years in prison by a juvenile court.
In its ruling, the court argued that there was not enough evidence indicating the existence of a conspiracy behind the crime, despite lingering doubts. A prosecutor then appealed the ruling in the trial on March 30, arguing that the crime was an organized hit.