Prosecutors seek higher sentences for defendants in retrial of Hrant Dink case

The retrial of the case involving the murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink took place on Nov. 1 at the 7th Criminal Court of Istanbul. The top Turkish appeal court had previously reviewed 62 defendants’ sentences and reversed some on the grounds that they were inadequate. 

Duvar English

The first hearing for the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's murder case retrial took place on Nov. 1. The Court of Cassation as the top Turkish court of appeals had reversed the judgment as it found some defendants’ sentencing inadequate.

The court also accepted the Turkish Presidency’s request to participate in the proceedings as the latter argued that it suffer from the “violation of the constitution."

Lawyers of the defendants, the Dink family, and the Turkish Presidency were present at the hearing. Seven defendants tried in custody joined the hearing through video call. 

The defendants requested for the court to dismiss the Court of Cassation's reversal of judgment.

One of the defendants Yavuz Karakaya, an ex-sergeant of the Turkish military, took the stand. He stated, “I was not tried fairly and justly. I was made to be the scapegoat of this case. There is no eyewitness, videotape, or report revealing my alleged complicity.”

“I was released pending trial, but somehow I was suddenly sentenced to the highest degree and arrested. I do not know which evidence was entered into the file to necessitate my arrest. I was denounced guilty years later, and the evidence was backtracked. Evidence against me was fabricated,” Karakaya added and demanded his release. 

The Dink family’s lawyer stated that they would remain indifferent to the Court of Cassation’s retrial decision, as it has remained indifferent to the 131-page evidence folder submitted by the family. 

The court decided to proceed with the reversal and ruled for the defendants' continued arrest. The hearing was postponed to Jan. 10, 2024. 

Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, editor-in-chief of Agos Newspaper, was shot dead on Jan. 19, 2007, in Istanbul by then-17-year-old Ogün Samast. 

Samast was caught on his way back to his hometown Trabzon after the murder. He was tried in the juvenile court and sentenced to 22 years and 10 months in prison.

An Istanbul court ruled in March 2021 that the murder was carried out in line with the goals of the Gülen network, which the Turkish authorities refer to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

From the 78 people involved in the murder case, 37 public officials accused of various offenses, including not intervening despite knowing about the murder plan, were acquitted. 26 defendants were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, including four life sentences and two aggravated life sentences. 

The fugitive suspects in the case include Fethullah Gülen, former prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, and Ekrem Dumanlı, former editor of Gülenist newspaper Zaman.