06/15/2019 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The 93rd hearing regarding the assassination of outspoken Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was completed Thursday in Istanbul. Hrant Dink was assassinated in 2007 in front of the Armenian newspaper he had founded. The investigation has become a 13-year court drama that continues to raise questions. The most recent hearing had three major points of interest.
First, officers from Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) were summoned to testify at the Istanbul court but did not appear. According to Amnesty International, the security forces were aware of the assassination plot and were even in communication with the murderers. In 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey’s security officials failed to prevent the murder and the government has failed to investigate the role of these officials in Dink’s death. Their failure to appear at the most recent hearing gives further credibility to these claims.
Secondly, however, the former governor of Istanbul testified that (MİT) has no responsibility for Dink’s assassination. He said they had evaluated whether Dink was in need of a bodyguard and decided that he did not meet the qualifying criteria. However, according to the former governor’s own statement this evaluation occurred three years prior to Dink’s assassination.
Third, the files of defendants Samast and Hayal were separated. The triggerman, Ogün Samast, was arrested shortly after the incident but it became apparent that he was working alongside approximately 18 other suspects in coordinating the assassination. He is expected to be released from prison in 2022. Yasin Hayal was convicted of instigating the assassination. Hayal’s case is more complicated as evidence shows police were aware of his intentions in 2006. In previous hearings, dozens of Turkish officials have appeared on the basis of negligence to prevent Dink’s murder.
Just four months prior to Dink’s assassination, he was charged with “making disparaging comments about Turkish identity” and for calling the 1915 Armenian massacre a genocide. These type of charges continue to be used against Christians in Turkey, especially towards those who belong to religious-ethnic groups such as Armenians. Dink’s murder and the government’s attempt to subvert judicial process is just one example showing how far the authorities will go to ensure that minorities do not challenge the status quo.
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