Convicted murderer of Hrant Dink released

Convicted murderer of Hrant Dink released

Convicted murderer of Hrant Dink released

The man convicted for the assassination of prominent journalist Hrant Dink has been released as he met the conditions for parole after more than 16 years in prison.

The prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist and the editor-in-chief of the weekly Agos was gunned down in broad daylight in front of his office 16 years ago. The assassination case saw Ogün Samast, a then 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, admitting to the killing and receiving a sentence of nearly 21 years in jail in 2011.

Local media reported that late on Nov. 15, Samast was released from the prison in the northern province of Bolu.

As the release decision sparked public debate and opposition, the Justice Ministry’s penitentiary centers’ body on Nov. 16 released a statement for clarification.

Samast, who was 17 years old when he committed the crime, completed his conditional release period and served his sentence, the statement said.

The office reminded that the instigators of the murder, Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, are still serving their sentences, and their parole periods will end more than 20 years later.

The announcement also stressed that Samast received a comparatively lesser sentence than other defendants as he was under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.

Denying claims of an early release, the statement highlighted that, despite Samast's eligibility for probation last year, he was not granted supervised release, and his detention continued.

"Throughout this process, the inmate's request to transfer to an open prison has been denied five times since 2015, and his request for supervised release has been rejected twice."

The statement added that, in the past year, the inmate's eligibility for parole was twice deemed inappropriate, but on Nov. 15, he fulfilled the conditions for release.

Bahri Bayram Belen, the Dink family's lawyer, commented on Nov. 16 that Samast's release was an anticipated development and, considering the legal circumstances surrounding his age during the period of the crime, it is "not something that should cause great surprise."

He mentioned that the family was aware of the legal possibilities for his release but emphasized that this situation has still managed to rekindle their pain.

"Hrant's death has deeply saddened both his family and Türkiye as a thinker, writer and journalist. It is a significant loss for Türkiye. Of course, they [the family] are saddened, but they also know the legal conditions, the possibility of earlier release due to Ogün's age at that time. They renewed their sorrow and their pain was rekindled."