Ex-police chiefs and military officer jailed over 2007 journalist killing in Turkey

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A Turkish court on Friday sentenced two former police chiefs and a former military officer to life terms in prison over the 2007 killing of prominent Armenian-Turkish newspaper editor Hrant Dink, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported.

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The slain journalist’s family and lawyers insisted, however, that the long-drawn-out trial had failed to shed light on the killing and possible collusion, and said they would appeal.

Dink was gunned down in Istanbul in broad daylight outside of his Agos newspaper’s office by a nationalist teenage gunman. A strong proponent of friendship between Armenia and Turkey, he had received death threats because of comments about the WWI mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.

Two suspects, including the teenage shooter, were put on trial and imprisoned, but allegations persisted that there was a cover-up by security officials who ignored warnings that Dink would be targeted.

US based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, US July 10, 2017. (Reuters)
US based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, US July 10, 2017. (Reuters)

Turkish prosecutors in 2017 linked Dink’s assassination to the network led by US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen who is accused of masterminding a failed coup a year earlier, and charged 76 people over the killing. Gulen’s network is believed to have infiltrated police and other state institutions. The cleric denies involvement in the coup attempt.

On Friday, the court in Istanbul convicted the police chiefs of “deliberate murder” while the former military officer was convicted of “aiding” the killing and violating Turkey’s constitution, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Four other defendants were given sentences ranging between 10 and 28 years for charges including involvement in the killing, membership in an illegal group and fraud. The court acquitted or dropped charges against other defendants, citing a statute of limitations for some of them.

The court also separated the cases against Gulen and 12 other defendants who were being tried in absentia, Anadolu reported. Their trial would resume at a later time.

Lawyer Hakan Bakircioglu, representing Dink’s family, said the trial did not “reveal all aspects of the killing.”

“We will take it to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court,” he said. “We will force this process until the end to ensure a proper trial.”

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