Monday, February 11, 2008

Ethnic Armenian journalist's murder trial continues in Turkey

11 February 2008
Earthtimes, UK

Ankara - The trial of the 19 people charged in connection with the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink continued Monday, with defendants refusing to answer the questions of lawyers engaged by Dink's family, the NTV television station reported. "She has become a saint," Erhan Tuncel told the court, referring disparagingly to Dink's wife Rakel who was present in the court.

Tuncel said he had no bad intentions,saying he had called the police after the murder but that Dink's lawyers were doing their best to have him sentenced to a heavy prison term.

Tuncel was later accused by a fellow defendant of having "sold out" his friends.

Dink, 53, was shot dead outside the Istanbul office of his Agos newspaper in January. Oguz Samast was arrested soon after in the Black Sea town of Samsun where he reportedly confessed to the killing.

Samast has been charged with murder, being a member of a terrorist organization and carrying an unlicensed weapon and faces up to 42 years behind bars if found guilty.

On Monday Samast too refused to answer questions.

The other 18 people on trial face a variety of charges including incitement to murder and forming a terrorist organization.

Dink's murder sparked a wave of anger and shock across Turkey with tens of thousands of people attending his funeral in Istanbul.

There were also nationalist counter-protests, especially in Samast's home town of Trabzon, against the way in which Dink's supporters waved banners saying "we are all Armenians."

Dink was a hate figure for nationalists owing to his well-known writings concerning the massacres of Armenians by Turks in 1915.

Dink said the massacres were a genocide that Turkey should acknowledge, while the official line in Turkey is that while hundreds of thousands of people were killed the deaths did not constitute a genocide.

Earlier on Monday a group of around 2,000 supporters of Hrant Dink called for the murder to be investigated thoroughly.

"This is a test for democracy and Justice," actress Derya Alabora told supporters waving placards saying "For Hrant. For Justice".

Lawyers for Dink's family attending the trial have complained that the investigation into the murder did not look closely at how the police had failed to act upon numerous warnings that Dink's life was in danger.

Speaking outside the court, European Parliamentarian Joost Lagendijk said it was imperative that the Turkish government act on its promises to amend Article 301 of the criminal code, the same code that Dink had been found guilty of "insulting Turkishness".

"We don't want any more statements from the government about changing 301. We want them to change it," Lagendijk said.

Copyright, respective author or news agency

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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