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Turkey: Verdict in Editor’s Death 18 janvier 2012

Posted by Acturca in Turkey / Turquie.
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The New York Times (USA) Wednesday, January 18, 2012, p. A 7

By Sebnem Arsu, Istanbul

A Turkish court convicted one man on Tuesday of instigating the 2007 murder of a prominent editor, but acquitted all 19 suspects on charges of being members of a terrorist organization, rejecting claims that the murder was an act of conspiracy by an illegal network within the Turkish state.

The verdict was met with outrage by relatives and supporters of the murdered man, Hrant Dink, an ethnic Armenian who edited a bilingual weekly in Turkish and Armenian called Agos and was a leading spokesman of the Armenian community in Turkey.

Witnesses said that security officers in the courtroom struggled to keep order as the crowd chanted « We demand justice. » « This verdict is certification of the ongoing state tradition of political murders and its alienation of some citizens as the enemy, » Fethiye Cetin, a lawyer for the Dink family, told television reporters at the scene. She called the trial a missed chance to get at the truth.

Outside observers also criticized the narrow verdict. Reporters Sans Frontieres, an advocacy group for press freedom based in Paris, issued a statement saying: « Five years after Dink’s murder, this court has proved to be powerless to shed light on all the complicity within the state apparatus and to identify the masterminds. No one can regard this case as solved. »

The trial that ended on Tuesday did not involve the gunman who actually shot Mr. Dink in the street outside his office on Jan. 19, 2007; he was convicted and sentenced separately last July. Rather, it turned on charges of a widespread conspiracy to terrorize and kill journalists for political reasons, and on the state’s negligence in failing to protect journalists.

Seven security officials have been convicted of failing to report what they knew about murder plots against Mr. Dink, and in 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Turkish government to pay compensation to Mr. Dink’s family.

Many prominent writers and intellectuals in Turkey have been harshly critical of the state over Mr. Dink’s death, including Nedim Sener, an award-winning journalist who wrote a book about the case. Mr. Sener is currently jailed on charges of aiding a terror organization, which he calls retaliation against him.

The court on Tuesday convicted Yasin Hayal and sentenced him to life in prison for his role in the murder, and as a lesser offense, for publicly threatening another writer, the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk. Both Mr. Pamuk and Mr. Dink spoke out publicly about the killing of ethnic Armenians by the Ottoman army in the early 20th century. Another defendant was convicted on a charge unrelated to Mr. Dink’s murder, while two defendants received 12 years and 6 months each on charges of aiding in the murder.

After the verdict, hundreds of protesters marched from the courthouse to the Agos office in downtown Istanbul, chanting, « This trial is not over » and « Murderers must be publicly held accountable, for justice, for Hrant. »


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