Prosecutor demands charges be dropped against Dink’s killer in new trial

News About Turkey - NAT
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Ogün Samast

A public prosecutor has requested that the charges against the convicted killer of a Turkish-Armenian journalist be dismissed. The accused, Ogün Samast, and six other defendants are facing trial for alleged crimes committed on behalf of an armed terrorist organization.

The prosecutor argued that the statute of limitations should be applied, leading to the dismissal of the charges against all seven individuals.

On January 19, 2007, Dink, the editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual Agos weekly, was shot twice in the head outside the newspaper’s headquarters in central Istanbul. The shooter, Ogün Samast, was a 17-year-old high school dropout at the time.

The following day, Samast was arrested and later sentenced to 16 years and 10 months in prison. He was released from prison on November 15 after serving his full sentence. This decision caused outrage among opposition politicians, journalists, human rights activists, and social media users.

Days after Samast’s release, the Istanbul 2nd Juvenile Court indicted him for crimes committed on behalf of an armed terrorist organization. The court sought a prison sentence ranging from seven to 12 years for Samast.

The juvenile court merged Samast’s case with another ongoing trial at the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court. The trial involves 11 suspects, including Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, who are accused of being involved in the crime Samast had allegedly committed.

Samast attended the latest hearing of the trial on Wednesday via the IT Voice and Image System (SEGBIS) from a courthouse in his hometown of Trabzon. He told the court that he agreed with the prosecutor’s opinion and did not want additional time for his defense statement.

The other defendants in the merged trial wanted additional time to counter the opinion of the prosecutor, who had sought prison sentences for them on charges of terrorist organization membership and attempting to destroy the constitutional order.

The court adjourned the trial until October 16.

Dink’s family and lawyers believe that justice will not be served until the masterminds behind the murder, as well as state officials who allegedly did not prevent, facilitate, or cover up the murder, are brought to justice.

Samast had previously confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in prison in 2011.

In 2021, the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court separated the files of 13 fugitive suspects, including Fethullah Gulen. The court ruled that Dink’s murder was committed “in line with the objectives of the FETO,” a derogatory term used by the Turkish government to describe the faith-based movement inspired by Gulen as a terrorist organization.

For years, prosecutors have investigated alleged links between the suspects and Gulen, who is accused of masterminding a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. However, Gulen strongly denies the charges.

The ongoing crackdown on the Gulen movement by the Turkish government began following corruption investigations in late 2013 that implicated members of President Erdogan’s close circle. The crackdown intensified after the failed coup on July 15, 2016.

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