Hrant Dink murder case and stumbling Turkish justice

Hrant Dink murder case and stumbling Turkish justice

The ruling of the Istanbul specially authorized court in the murder case of the Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink was deemed unacceptably wrong by many people in Turkey. Tens of thousands of people gathered in front of his Agos newspaper on the fifth anniversary of his murder - he was actually shot down exactly there - not only to commemorate him, but also to protest the court ruling announced earlier in the week.

The simple reason for the protest was that the Court found guilty a - then 17 year old – triggerman Ogün Samast and his buddy Yasin Hayal for encouraging and helping him; two ignorant peasants from a suburb of the Black Sea coast port of Trabzon.

Despite lots of evidence put forward by Prosecutor Hikmet Usta in order to prove that Dink was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy in which police, intelligence and gendarmerie personnel were involved, judge Rüstem Eryılmaz ruled that it was not an organized crime. He even set a certain Erhan Tuncel free; a university student in Trabzon who supposedly knew of the murder in advance and testified in the court that he was working for Trabzon police as a youth informant.

Many members of the Turkish administration said they were unhappy because of the court ruling too. Reminding that it was his Justice and development Party (AK Parti) government who managed to arrest the killer 32 hours after the murder, “But government is not the court to rule,” Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan said Jan. 20: “No one can write down the bill on us.” He was referring to the harsh criticism of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who bluntly said: “There is no justice left in Turkey.” He continuously demands the abolishment of the specially authorized courts.

Erdoğan might have a point when he said the government couldn’t be held responsible because of the court’s ruling. On the other hand, it’s a fact that it was an Erdoğan government who turned down requests of the court to try a number of people - who still work for the government; police officers, intelligence officers, governors and others.

As if this was not enough to stumble Turkish justice, Judge Eryılmaz told media a day after that he was uncomfortable with his ruling too. He said he was under pressure to close the case as soon as possible and did not look at the evidence - like the recordings of the telephone talks between the murderer and five other people. The judge was furious saying that he had presented more than enough evidence in the indictment and sent the case to the appeal courts.

But Thomas Hammerberg, the Human Rights Commisioner of the Council of Europe said the actual indictments are written so poorly that it was one of the reasons of justice failing in Turkey. He thinks the whole Turkish justice system needed an overhaul, implying that courts worked on different standards and performance in the Dink case and other cases.

One of the other cases he implied was the case of journalist Nedim Şener. He was the one who wrote a book titled “Hrant Dink Murder and Intelligence Lies,” which claims that there was a right wing conspiracy with links within the police, intelligence and gendarmerie. He is under arrest for nearly a year now with accusations that he was a member of a terrorist organization, with no evidence of plans, guns or any action; the contrary of the Dink murder case.