Hrant Dink was shot dead in Istanbul in broad daylight outside the office of his newspaper Agos in 2007 by a teenage abuser.
A Turkish court has sentenced two former police chiefs to life imprisonment for their role in the murder of prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink over 14 years ago, state media reported.
Editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, and later Turkey’s most famous Armenian voice abroad, Dink was shot dead as he left his Istanbul office in January 2007. After the murder, tens of thousands of people gathered in central Istanbul to cry.
In 2011, Dink’s killer Ogun Samast was sentenced to nearly 23 years in jail by a juvenile court. He was 17 when the murder took place. The following January, a man named Yasin Hayal was sentenced to life in prison for instigating the murder.
Among those sentenced by the court on Friday, former police intelligence chief Ali Fuat Yilmazer was sentenced to jail without parole for murder, the Anadolu news agency reported. Another police chief, Ramazan Akyurek, was also sentenced to life imprisonment.
State media said the court ruled the murder was carried out in accordance with the objectives of an underground network linked to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim preacher, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating an attempt coup in July 2016.
Gulen, who has lived in the United States since 1999 and denies any involvement in the failed coup, was one of 13 fugitives from justice among 76 defendants tried in the Dink case. The court did not rule on the case of Gulen and the 12 other fugitives and instead separated their cases.
Following Friday’s conviction, the murdered journalist’s family and lawyers, however, insisted the lengthy trial failed to shed light on the murder and possible collusion, and said they would appeal.
Lawyer Hakan Bakircioglu, representing Dink’s family, said the trial did not “reveal all aspects of the murder.”
“We will take it to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court,” he said. “We will force this process to the end to ensure a proper trial.”
Other defendants in the Dink case were sentenced to prison terms on charges of aiding and abetting murder, membership of a terrorist group – due to links to Gulen’s network – as well as false and destruction of documents, state media reported.
Ankara said Gulen’s network had widely infiltrated Turkish police and other state institutions for decades.
In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Turkey to pay 100,000 euros ($ 118,000) to Dink’s family in compensation, saying the authorities had failed to adequately protect Dink even though they knew that ultranationalists were plotting to kill him.
Dink had worked for reconciliation between Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks and was repeatedly prosecuted for insulting “Turkishness” for his comments on Armenian identity and the massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915.