Hrant murdered again
While I was busy with emotions and the funeral rites after the death of Turkish Cypriot resistance leader and founding President Rauf Denktaş, back in Turkey Hrant Dink, a colleague and a friend, was being murdered again – this time with a court verdict.
The court verdict issued Jan. 17 ruled out “organized crime” in the case of Dink’s 2007 murder, which would have seriously increased the penalties for the assassin and his accomplices. Yasin Hayal was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment, and Erhan Tuncel was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. Tuncel, who has been under arrest since 2007, was released several hours later based on the time he had already served.
Dink’s assassin Ogün Samast was tried earlier by Istanbul’s Juvenile Criminal Court, as he was below 18 on the day of the crime. He was convicted of premeditated murder and illegal possession of a firearm on July 25, 2011. He was sentenced to 22 years and 10 months in prison. He will become eligible for parole in 2021, after serving two thirds of his sentence.
As if he were joking with the notion of justice, Rüstem Eryılmaz, the presiding judge of the “Heavy Criminal Court,” told daily Vatan the court verdict stating that the murder was not an “organized crime” would not mean there was no criminal organization involved but would only mean that the court could not verify it. Well, there were records of telephone signals – provided by the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) – of at least five people coming from the crime scene, according to data provided by the telephone operators under orders of the court.
The judge confessed there was no time to examine those records and that examining them would further prolong completion of the case which had already been going on for five years.
The court probably wanted to issue the verdict in the Dink murder case before the fifth anniversary of the murder. Yes, everyone wanted the court to issue its verdict and sentence the “gang” that murdered Dink to an appropriate punishment. But after the data was finally provided to the court by the Telecommunications Directorate – expected to firmly establish a link between the assassin and at least four other suspects – defense lawyers were demanding that the court not rush to a verdict, examine the evidence, establish the organized crime link and decide on penalties accordingly.
More? The presiding judge disclosed that he was aware that the verdict would not please anyone, as even he was sure that the murder of Dink could not have been planned by Hayal alone.
Nevertheless, the court wanted to rush the verdict, though the judges themselves were pretty much aware that the ruling would not please the Turkish public. They were also unhappy with the verdict they gave. Why?
What might come next? Can we expect the Turkish judiciary to find some legal pretext to stab more daggers in the back of our colleague and friend Dink by releasing Samast and Hayal next week? Or can we expect some common sense from the Supreme Court of Appeals?
Enough is enough. Rather than receive comforting statements from the president and some top politicians, we want to see justice prevail.