We didn't look at the evidence, Dink case judge admits
A woman places a carnation as hundreds of protesters gather in front of the office of Hrant Dink in Istanbul. AP photo
The court hearing the Hrant Dink case did not have enough evidence to determine whether the Turkish-Armenian journalist’s murder was organized, judge Rüstem Eryılmaz said today while admitting that judges did not listen to the phone recordings of suspects.
“I am not satisfied with the verdict either," the judge said, in an interview with daily Vatan reporter Öge Demirkan yesterday.
Conspirator Yasin Hayal was sentenced to life in prison Jan. 17 for his role in the Jan. 19, 2007, killing, but alleged co-conspirator Erhan Tuncel was acquitted in the case. Crucially, the court also ruled that no criminal organization was responsible for the murder even though a prosecutor had posited links between the killing and the alleged Ergenekon gang.
The trial would have went on for several years if they had listened to the recordings of phone conversations between the suspects provided by Turkey's Telecommunications Authority (TİB), Eryılmaz said. “The case began 4.5 years ago ... public pressure builds up when trials drag on, we are under pressure. We wanted to end the case as quickly as possible.”
The fact that all suspects were cleared of “being members of a terrorist organization” charges did not mean there was not an organization behind Dink's assassination, Eryılmaz said.
"There was not enough evidence at hand to legally prove an organization; another investigation could be opened if additional evidence becomes available," Eryılmaz said.
Ümit Boyner. AA photo
Turkish Industry & Business Association TÜSİAD head Ümit Boyner said the court's ruling came as a "shock" to sensible people in Turkey, shaking their belief in justice.
The case was not simply a case into the killing of a journalist but carried "greater meaning,” Boyner said.
Dink's lawyers were "almost systematically" kept from finding necessary evidence and their requests were continuously denied, she added.